A Couple of Words on Texas

Like everybody else, I’ve been watching events unfold throughout Texas. The impact of the hurricane continues to affect the state in horrific ways. The pictures coming across our TV screens make me feel so helpless. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of having to endure what some of these people have, both the people being rescued and those rescuing them. I can’t imagine having to leave my home and my security, even having to leave behind basic essentials like medication, diapers and food for babies. Having to watch the water overtake your home and knowing that you have to leave it to stay safe is frightening. Having to venture out into the floodwaters to escape the rising water would be horrifying! You have no idea what will happen and you don’t know where that will lead.

God Bless those people and agencies that stepped in to both rescue people and to provide them with the basic needs of survival. Obviously those in positions of authority and service are out there and I know that we all sincerely appreciate them, but others have stepped up as well. To those individuals who offered up their own boats, their time, and their safety, you are incredible! To the people who have opened their homes, stores, and other venues for people to seek shelter, your hospitality and kindness is amazing.

I understand that over 5 million meals have been provided and over 30,000 people have been forced into shelters. This doesn’t even begin to include those that have been placed elsewhere, have left the area entirely, or were able to move other places with family. This nightmare is not yet over, either. The floodwaters continue to rise in different places throughout the state and will continue to affect many more thousands of people.

Despite all the devastation that we’re witnessing, the one resounding theme that we’re seeing is that the best of humanity is on display. We’re seeing people risking their own lives to save strangers’ lives. We’re seeing dozens of people lashing themselves together to rescue somebody. I’m watching elderly people being loaded into boats by men that are kind and considerate to them. I’m simply overwhelmed by the kindness of people that we’re seeing. I think, over the past several months, I’ve lost sight of the goodness that we’re capable of. It seems as if we’ve been exposed to the negative so frequently and in such large doses that we tend to forget how nice we can actually be.

As bad as this situation is, it has restored my faith in humanity. My hope is that this can be sustained. I know that the immediate urgency of this situation is going to turn into a long-term and ongoing operation. This isn’t going to end next week. People are going to be tired and first responders are going to have to get back to their own lives and situations that require their attention. At that point, tens of thousands of people are still going to need assistance. My wish is that there will still be people willing to help and that this show of humanity can be maintained over time. This is what we need to happen both in Texas and in our world. Now is the time to think about what we, as individuals, no matter where we are, can do to help out in times of need, both in Texas now and going forward. What kind of people do we want to be? What can we offer to improve the lives of those around us?

I know that all of us throughout the world are wishing the people of Texas all the best; that they remain safe and get through this as fast and as safely as possible. For those of us that cannot be there in person, we can each do whatever we’re able to do.

Sending all of our love and prayers. Be safe.

After Charlottesville

broken heart

I feel like I need to say something about all that’s happened over the past few days. I’ve tried extremely hard to be fair in writing about politics, even though I have very strong feelings. However, this has now exceeded my level of patience.

This post, though, is not just about politics, nor just about bigotry, hatred, or prejudice. This post is about my personal take on humanity. I can’t just sit here and not say anything. I’ve felt the words building up in my chest for months, watched the state of our country deteriorate and our faith in our government’s ability to do the right things erode. I’m outraged, embarrassed, and disgusted by where we seem to be headed as a country. There have been many disappointing decisions made over the months, but there seems to be such an underlying negative pervasiveness and tolerance of it with this administration that I’m genuinely worried for us for the first time in my life. I’ve been trying to convince myself that it will all get straightened out and that I’m overreacting, but I cannot let go of this feeling of foreboding.

I am going to say up front that I did not vote for Mr. Trump. He frightened me and disgusted me with his violence, his disdain for principles, and his propensity for lying, even when the truth would have been easier. These things signaled to me that he would not be good for the individual people we are nor as a country as a whole. To me, a president is responsible for standing up for ALL of us, for each one of us, individually, as well as a country. This past weekend demonstrated, beyond all doubt, that he is incapable of representing us as we deserve. Not only did he fail to denounce the actions in Charlottesville as they were happening, nor afterwards, in the harsh words that we deserved, but dug his heels in on the matter. People surrounding the president, people in both parties, people all across the country condemned him for his weak response and he stubbornly refused to say what the people were begging to hear. I believe we deserve better than this, but that’s my opinion and something I address on an individual level.

What I want to say about this weekend is much more important than just one president that won’t represent all people. First of all, I want to apologize to ALL people who have ever felt slighted, denied, treated unfairly or hated based upon their color, race, religion, age, gender, sex, lifestyle, etc. (basically, all of us). Obviously some are far more serious than others, but few of us are unaffected.  We can all say that we have a reason to feel like we have been stereotyped or treated differently just like we can all say that we, in turn, have made judgments against others based on various reasons. There are very few among us that can say, in all honesty, that they are without fault.

I think a lot of our inner beliefs come from various sources: history, family beliefs, environment, community, friends, opportunities, and individual experiences. However, how we behave, what we choose to learn, how we grow and expand our thinking and how we react to each other is completely within our own control. At what point do we accept personal responsibility for ourselves and not blame our behavior on something or someone else. At what point do we stop blaming other people for our own circumstances?

I’m going to qualify myself here so that you can understand my perspective. I’m a white woman, almost 60 years old. My experiences throughout life were both good and bad. Have I experienced things based on my gender, age, and/or race? Yep, although not nearly as significant as some others have. Sadly, most of us have and it is a part of our lives. There are varying levels of significance, but I’m writing from my experience and perspective. I will not let any of the things that I’ve experienced change who I am. Everybody has their own set of circumstances that make up who they are. It is my decision on how I react to incidents of bigotry, unfair treatment, or racism. Each of us has to react in the way that reflects the person that they want to be. Have I always said and done exactly the right thing myself? No, but I will say that I’ve grown, I’ve learned, and I always strive to be the best person that I can be. I’ve learned to be more vocal about the wrongs that I see, to stand up for what’s right. We all make mistakes; mistakes don’t define us. Our intent, our beliefs, our words and our actions make up who we are.

I can unequivocally say that I’m very sorry for all the horrible things that have happened throughout history. We all know the many people that were affected, from the beginning of time, by the hatred and violence of those that inflicted unforgivable acts. The current reality, however, is that we are not in a position to remedy any of these things. We cannot go back in time to set things right. We cannot make up for the injustices of so many acts that have been perpetrated throughout the decades, the centuries, to so many different groups of people. Our ancestors lived a different reality than we do. Our future generations are going to live a different reality than ours is. We cannot change the fact that these things happened, but we can make sure that it never happens again!

As bad as the circumstances surrounding this weekend were, there is hope in the swift and ferocious condemnation against these hate groups. It means that so many of us, across all races and religions, have grown, we’ve learned from the past and will not accept this type of hate. It’s up to ALL of us to continue this vigilance. THIS is our responsibility going forward. We cannot change the past but we can change the present and the future for ourselves, our children, and grandchildren. This is a defining moment and one that is important to every single one of us. We each need to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions every single moment of every single day.

I think it’s very unfortunate that we have a president and his administration that are incapable of leading us in this effort. I’m really sad that he is unable to soothe the American people, to reassure us that these types of things will not be tolerated or to condemn the specific people that were responsible for this. That can’t stop us, though. We cannot allow haters and bigots to win. We are a better people than that.

We, the individual people, are America. We are individually responsible for how our country will evolve. Not one of us can go back in time; we cannot change what’s happened before right this minute. We must, however, do a better job of being human beings. I’m so sad today that anybody in this world is forced to feel “less than” anybody else let alone to endure such hatred and violence as we’ve been witness to. I’m literally nauseous watching the new information coming through on a constant basis. My heart breaks for the people forced to endure hate or prejudice. It makes me ashamed as an American today, but it also makes me hopeful that maybe, just maybe, now will be the time of real change that we’re capable of. I’m hopeful that, even without the leadership that we deserve right now, we will be able to join together to defeat this threat.