In the wide wake of recent flooding in various areas of Louisiana, many of us who live here find it hard to survey the devastation – the mountains of discarded guts of homes lining the streets – and to smell the mildew already set in. Even more difficult is seeing the dejection and even despair written on so many faces of the people whose homes were wrecked.
Those of us who lived through a similar scene eleven years ago after Hurricane Katrina are immediately transported back in time. We experience all over again the pain, and also the numbness of disbelief that helps us cope and handle the immense physical and mental tasks ahead of us.
Yet, if there’s an upside to the down, it is in the awakening, re-awakening, or strengthening of the element of compassion for one another and even for ourselves. In either situation – of being a victim or a rescuer, and sometimes both – we realize that in times like these our humanity comes to the fore. With few exceptions we see and feel more kindness, helpfulness, and generosity among us.
During the swift rising of waters, and immediately after, people were busy rescuing people, human beings rescuing human beings regardless of race, religion, or class.
Stories of heroic rescues abound – individuals risking their own lives to pull someone else to safety, First Responders going beyond the call of duty, and a number of people with their own boats who together have come to be known as the Cajun Navy, bravely and tirelessly doing what comes naturally to them, and saving lives.
It is now obvious that when we become rescuers of others, in whatever form, whether in disasters or in everyday situations, in helping to educate people, giving each person that we meet respect, paying attention to what is true, real, and important, and making our best contribution to society and the force for good, we are all also rescuing ourselves and in the truest sense, rescuing humanity.