Recently I have lost a great deal of faith in the people of our country, and perhaps humanity as a whole. I am a helper, a fixer, and a giver. I always want, and sometimes need, to do anything possible to make the world better for the individuals in my immediate circle, often to the detriment of my own schedule. But I rarely see these traits in other people. Now, please don't get me wrong, I am not egotistical at all. In fact, I have very low self esteem. I see myself as less important than the rest of the world, but I don't think this is such a bad way to feel. What I don't understand is how so many people increasingly put themselves above absolutely everyone and everything else. In years past, when a siren sounded, cars not only slowed but actually pulled off the road and stopped no matter which direction the emergency vehicle was traveling. Now I notice that most people speed up to get by before they are forced to stop, often cutting off an ambulance or fire truck. When I was younger, people would pause for completely absurd amounts of time to hold a door for me, just to be polite. Now men and women alike glance at me, arms full of baby and baby gear, and step up the pace to get through the door before I am close enough to make them feel obligated to hold it open for an extra moment. The worst example in recent days was the government shutdown fiasco and the complete lack of concern on the part of congress for military families. Something could have been done to protect the income of the soldier in case of shutdown, but it wasn't, probably because doing so would not have had any benefit to the congressmen themselves. I won't go into that- since most of you heard my opinions more than you wanted to. On a smaller level, the number of cheating spouses and unreliable friends seems to have skyrocketed also. When did it become acceptable to expect your friends help without returning the favor? Or to not only cheat on your significant other, but to sleep with whomever you please and then guilt the faithful one for leaving?
Overall I have been utterly disgusted with my species for the past few weeks. Then, last Saturday, an F3 tornado ripped through my county and destroyed 280 homes and severely damaged nearly 700 more in just a matter of minutes. Having grown up in Alabama, I have experienced my fair share of tornados, but the hills of my home state cause tornados to jump and often only damage a home or two at a time, and this tornado stayed on the ground for over forty miles destroying everything in it's path. Luckily no one I know personally had any damage, with the exception of a friend's son's elementary school, but the aftermath was overwhelming none the less. I have never seen anything like it. The town quickly put together an event called "Neighbors helping Neighbors" for those unaffected to donate to those in need and set up in the local Lowe's parking lot. I gathered everything in my house I thought we could live without and drove across town, feeling a little guilty for not going earlier in the day and wondering if they would even still be there- (it was 3pm and the event started at 8am). For those of you who don't live in Fayetteville, the Lowe's is on the main road through town and has at least four entrances and a giant parking lot. When I got to the street beside Lowe's I found a traffic jam, so I turned around to avoid it and went to an entrance on the other side of the store, wanting to drop off my donations before they closed the event, but I found an even larger traffic jam on the other side. I ended up parking in another lot and walking, bags and baby in hand, and as I got closer I realized the terrible traffic was because so many people were trying to donate. The trucks brought to carry the donations were already full and huge piles filled the parking lot surrounding. People scurried everywhere to accept the bags of clothes and food but couldn't move fast enough to keep traffic moving. It was quite a site, and actually brought me to tears. The donations that day were so much that volunteers worked into the night to transport them. The salvation army sent out an emergency call for volunteers because they were unable to sort and organize the volume of donations in time for the give away day.
That moment gave me a glimmer of hope for humanity, and showed me that in times of emergency, when disaster strikes, people will step up and help. But being a good person in times of emergency is not enough. There are people who need a smile, a kind ear, or someone willing to help all around you every day, and I challenge you all to notice and do something about it. You may have to spend a few minutes or maybe even an entire day on someone else, and your grocery shopping or laundry may have to wait, but the joy you bring to them will be worth it. And hopefully they will appreciate your efforts and pass on the kindness. Maybe, in time, we can bring back the world I remember. A world where we do not always put ourselves first.
Photos by Krystal Dorn of Krystal Klear Images