It’s Friday, and things seem pretty damned dire today.
- Wildfires apparently started by teens in the Pacific Northwest are greedily devouring tens of thousands of acres.
- Mexico City had the worst earthquake since 1985, the magnitude of damage is unknown.
- Southeastern Texas and Louisiana has been flooded out by Hurricane Harvey.
- Hurricane Irma is sweeping the Caribbean islands nearly off the damn map, and bearing down toward Florida.
- Hurricane Jose is already a category 3 and riding on Irma’s coattails.
And those? Those are only in North and Central America. Those don’t include catastrophic flooding in Ireland, or monsoon flooding in Asia right now (some of which has already killed thousands).
It’s exhausting, isn’t it? All this disaster, all this destruction, it can feel like the world is actually ending.
Mr. Rogers once said that his mother’s advice in a disaster was to look for the helpers – there are always helpers (yes, I’m a Gen X kid who grew up on 321 Contact and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood).
People react to horror in different ways, and some of those ways are pretty disheartening. Humans seem to have an empathy and compassion limit, a container that fills and empties. Everyone’s cup is a different size (admittedly, some seem more like an inverted bucket that can’t fill…those are usually the asshats who spout off about disasters being punishment from some deity for some “moral failing” du jour), and and everyone’s recharging mechanism is different.
It’s all so goddamned overwhelming if you look at the massive destruction, it can easily suck you dry of all caring if you aren’t careful.
Instead, look for the helpers. The people taking in and feeding/watering the desperate wildlife running through their yards, literally escaping the fires of hell. The people in Texas who went out to rescue people and animals in their boats while the rain dumped down in buckets. The people who open their homes for evacuees for a couple of weeks. Sending prayers and good thoughts on social media is all fine and good: emotional support IS sometimes helpful. But the simple fact is, social media back-patting isn’t practical help…I think eventually the feeling of helplessness watching these disasters in real time has a terrible despairing effect. Counter that effect: BE a helper, even if it’s just something small.
You don’t have to be a superhero to be heroic. You don’t have to be extraordinary in order to be kind. Pick ONE thing that you can do to help, and you’ll feel a little less helpless. It’s that simple – if you can foster a pet, do so. If you can send money to a real charity, do (be sure you choose one actually helping – sadly some of those asshats use disasters as a money-making scheme, either by price gouging or just stealing “charity” funds). If you can give blood, do so.
If you can hang out with friends and give comfort to each other, and remind each other this will be ok and we can get through it all, DO THAT.
Not everyone needs to be the person with a boat in the middle of a hurricane – the next year or so will be recovery time that WILL need a lot of help. Take care of yourself, but do something where you can and you’ll feel more in a community than a helpless observer to the end of the world. Because, this is not the end. This is the beginning of whatever comes after. A little compassion, a little kindness, a little help: seems like a good step no matter what comes next.