The tragic flooding of the city of Houston and surrounding areas brought on by Hurricane Harvey has caused unthinkable devastation and misery to countless numbers of people. Even while the damage was taking place, however, TV channels and computer screens were showing images of first responders and volunteers who left the comfort of their own homes and risked their lives in many cases to ensure the safety and help save the lives of others. Millions of others who were unable to provide that type of help at the scene responded by donating money to help the victims of the hurricane to get back on their feet. This is not an isolated case, just the most recent event of this type. We have gotten used to seeing such responses to natural and man-made disasters throughout the world.
Some observers have lamented the fact that it seems to take a tragedy to bring out the best in people, but that’s not really correct. This type of behavior occurs within a context that is often obscured by the ill-will that is so prominent in the interactions among many nations of the world today, as well as the partisan bickering that is standard on the national news scene, and the regular digest of murders, muggings, and rapes that seems to be the formula for presenting local news.
The positive acts that are highlighted during times of tragedy are vivid and noticeable because they are occurring in a concentrated time and place and, for a change, they are getting adequate news coverage.
As we appreciate these acts of kindness and generosity that occur in response to tragedies, let’s recognize that these are not new experiences for the people who are performing these actions. It’s not like a bunch of bad people suddenly became good people in response to a disaster. Let’s recognize that the majority of people are kind and decent and provide conscientious performance at their jobs and help their neighbors and contribute to charities and obey the law.
Even in these troubled times, when there is too much bad news, don’t let the highlighted good things that people do in response to tragedies mask the recognition of the fact that most people actually practice this type of response in the ways they behave on a daily basis. Are you one of them?