If you read or listen to the news on a fairly regular basis you may have come to the conclusion that we’ve become a group of angry, divisive, name-calling sects, busily elbowing each other out of line, judging each other’s moral and mental capacities and losing that old, dependable sense of connection that used to mean being an American. Yes, we were always different from each other but we were always still related, allied, unified as Americans. Remember?
Then along comes Irene. And those hard, thorny, judgmental shells get peeled back to reveal— we’re all still connected. Connected by that most durable, eternal thread— our shared humanity. Everywhere we saw just folks rushing to rescue total strangers. Putting their own lives in jeopardy simply because they could feel the link. Their empathy and concern born out of the simple, innate human emotions we’re all born with. And suddenly we got to view that old American arm-in-armness that has been so sorely missing these last couple of years.
Of course folks like Rep. Eric Cantor couldn’t lose the opportunity to exhort us that FEMA – busy saving lives and property but spending money to do it —has to be considered one those evil government- spending programs that must be cut back in order to save money. Rather than asking the super-rich to kick in more revenue to solve our growing insolvency, certain politicians still see the human services our government provides as unnecessary, indulgent and only adding to the weakness of our economy rather than being the basic fabric of our society, grounded in our country’s founding principles.
So—does it have to take hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and blackouts for us to rise to showing the best in us? And what will it take to move the hearts of those members of Congress who worship the almighty dollar and the bottom line more than our universally basic human needs. Needs we all share, we who are lucky enough to be part of this country whose foundations were built on answering those human needs— freedom of speech and of worship ,from want and from fear.