The natural disasters that took place in 2017 across the Southern States in the United States, Mexico, and in the Caribbean Islands left a sour taste in many people mouths and hearts. The loss of life and property has really brought the question of life and the value we place on it to bear. Around the same time, Mexico was hit with two earthquakes in as many weeks as Hurricane Maria hammered Puerto Rico leaving its power grid in shambles.
The Question that Always Comes Up
One question that seems to be asked is, “Why?” The question sounds so simple but yet has so many layers to it. “Why us? “Why like this?” “Why right now?” “Why this bad?” Storms never come at our convenience despite sometimes giving a warning. The storm warning doesn’t negate the devastation the storm can cause, it just reduces its effect by allowing time to evacuate or hunker down.
Storms are never a welcome sight because of the threat to normal life that it carries. Armed to the tooth with wind gusts that will uproot trees and houses, torrential rains that turn highways into rivers, storms leave desolation in their wake. But that’s not the whole story of what a storm can do.
Storms Wash Away Prejudice
One of the most touching videos that I watched on CNN during Hurricane Harvey that pummeled Houston was of an elderly man who was rescued from his car by a human chain. Stuck in his car, surrounded by water on the interstate, and the threat of being swept away looming, people risked their own lives to save that man by building a human chain. It didn’t matter what culture, race, background, party affiliation, or even sexual preference the man or the chain belonged to, it was a life that needed saving and they were not about to leave him in the lurch.
In a time of rising racial tension, a strained relationship between civilians and police that shows no signs of dissipating, an immigration crisis, among other things, a storm is able to do what leaders are fighting to do; bring people together.
In a storm, every preference goes out the window and the only thing that matters is the sustaining life. No one cares about color in a storm because a storm doesn’t discriminate, or favor one preference over another. In a storm, the priority is preservation of life. A storm is not necessarily a punishment but I see a storm as a wake-up call. It’s in time of calamity that our character is provoked to awaken. Will we shrink back in fear or step up in faith, do whatever it takes, and show there is strength in numbers by dispensing light and hope?
Storms beckon first responders to the scene. A first responder is defined as someone who first arrives and assists at the scene of emergency. Most first responders are normally police officers, firefighters and paramedics among others. These are highly trained individuals tasked with doing the running to what everyone else is running from. They do an amazing job and are often unappreciated and underpaid. From watching the hurricane events I realized that first responders are not only highly trained but they also value human life and go to great lengths to lend a helping hand. A storm will draw out a first response spirit out of civilians who will volunteer their time and other resources to help those in an emergency.
Ordinary citizens with no formal training in rescue operations assisted first responders to evacuate people. Journalists and reporters on scene helped with the rescue efforts as one correspondent from CNN helped a rescue worker save people trapped in a house. A storm can make us parochial, nail us to the flag pole of hopelessness and despair, and incapacitate us. Or we can see the storm as the ripe time to show what we are really made of. A storm doesn’t pick and choose who or where to exact its measure of devastation but we can pick and choose what our response will be to the storms of life.
There have been many hurricanes in the past, but cities that have been affected by the storms have been able to rebuild and exist long after the storm has come and gone. There is a strength that the storm gives that no seminar or workshop can provide. Storms of life can become the classroom to teach us how to comeback after heartbreaking losses.
The Comeback From a Setback
In the 2013 finals of the NBA championship, the San Antonio Spurs were minutes away from closing up the series against the Miami Heat. But in the span of those dying minutes of what was to be a championship clinching game, Miami stole it from their hands in a traumatic way. It was as though the Spurs had been hit with a storm. I truly thought that the Spurs would never be able to rebound from such a gut wrenching defeat. Miami went on to win the next game and win the championship.
The next season, the Spurs played with excellence and ended up in the Finals to battle Miami for the title again. This time the Spurs put on a clinic on their opponent and ended up winning the title. (Watch the YouTube videos titled, “The Beautiful Game”)
The older we grow the more we find out that storms are inevitable in life. There is no place we can go to ensure immunity from storms in life. A storm will find you soon enough. Once the reality of that has gone over, we can live life, not in fear of the storm we face or will face but in confidence that no matter the storm, there is a comeback!
Challenge Corner: Do you know someone going through a storm right now? If so, locate them and be a first responder to them and walk with them. Let them know that this setback, is a set up for a comeback. If you are the one going through a storm then reach out to a trusted friend and let them into your storm. Helping hands are the best sign that you will make it through your storm.
Keep on Keeping on!