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Sadness Amidst The Sadness

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Southeast Texas, maybe Louisiana, even Mississippi may be underwater before this is all over.  People try to blame it on global warming, but come on, this is God, nature, however you choose to look at it, telling us it is pure hubris to think we are in control.  All our technology, all our knowledge, all our development – gone in a rainstorm – we are far more powerless than we like to think we are.

I lived in Houston for a hurricane in the early 1960’s. I was about 3 or 4 years old and it comprises one of the earliest memories I still have.  It took the front door of the house and I can still see my father chasing it down the street.  I can also see people rowing past the house in the floods.  Our house was on a rise and while the street was flooded enough for boat traffic, we were dry – thankfully.  Such memories do not leave easily.  Therefore I have more than standard sympathy for what is happening now.  Somehow, hitting the Save the Children banner up top and donating seems an entirely insufficient response.

So I was stunned when I came across this piece in The Atlantic yesterday, “Why Ordinary Citizens Are Acting as First Responders in Houston.”  The whole article is an apologetic for the fact that people are helping people rather than the government helping people in this mess.  Further, it attempts to justify that which needs no justification by making the case that such citizen response is part of the government’s plan.  Have we really become so far removed from our fellow humans that such an article needs to be written?

Were I not already weeping over the devastation itself I would be weeping over this article.  There is so much about it that is so sad.  There is a distinct lack of empathy in the expectation that someone else will take care of someone in need.  There is the apparent absence of personal autonomy expecting that such action requires some sort of government approval.  There is a self-absorption that is frightening.  Finally, I think there is a lack of maturity, as if people expect the government to keep track of them like a parent – we’re supposed to grow up and not need parents anymore.

God promises that He will make good from any situation, if we are faithful.  That is hard to remember when things are as bad as they are right now.  But we need to cling to that promise.  We are seeing so much good in all the stories of heroes and helpers.  It is funny how we, and our nation, are forged far more in strife than in blessing.  Our character develops best when challenged.

I pray this morning that one of the blessings God will bring from this catastrophe is a resurgence in our national character so that articles like the one in The Atlantic are not needed.


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