Last week I was in daze, a category 5 hurricane hit the island of St. John and I couldn’t get in touch with my dad. I had not idea if he was alive, had food or water, a house, how his friends faired and I also didn’t know how to help. Everything was unsettled and scary. Yet my kids still had to go school. Groceries had to be bought. My son had his 5th birthday.
Life happens whether you’re in the mood for it or not.
Everything turned out to be okay for my dad but this was a gentle reminder that you never know what someone is going through: their marriage could be falling apart, they could have a sick parent, be struggling with an illness you can’t see. For me it felt so strange to be doing mundane life tasks with these ever looping thoughts about how my dad is doing racing through my brain. Making small talk at school pick up felt like a huge feat. Not crying when someone asked how my day was at the checkout line was even harder. Everything felt bigger and harder then it actually was.
I also get that people have been through worse. People have actually lost their parents. People who suffer with depression or mental illness may feel like this a lot of the time. It’s a hard place to be but we will all be in these situations from time to time. I don’t really have any words of wisdom except to be kind. To everyone. As much as possible. You never know what their going through and we’re all going to go through some shit. When my life is fine, I just assume everyone else’s is. I forget that the universe doesn’t hand out ‘oh fuck’ cards at the same time. So if someone is short or seems distant, cut them a break, they could be going through something you don’t know about.
Also, remember the acts of kindness that were given to you in your moments. I had so many people reach out and try to help put me in touch with my dad. People I didn’t even know. So many people donated to St. John Rescue fund. There are good people and great acts of kindness in these moments. As that sweet piece of ass Mr. Rogers said so beautifully, “Look for helpers”. They are there.
I recently saw someone on Facebook complaining about all the ‘free stuff’ the Hurricane Harvey people were getting & that they didn’t deserve it because they were idiots that didn’t evacuate fast enough.
Of course my first reaction was blind rage. These people have just lost their homes, their safety, a sense of security and smaller things like family photos but what this person was upset about was that people were sending money or supplies to help. The insanity of that is UNREAL.
The lack of empathy, compassion and basic humanity is so maddening. That a natural disaster can cause people’s first reaction to be “Yeah but what are they taking from me.” “They don’t deserve it” and that somehow giving & helping become the enemy.
I’m honestly trying understand the mindset of this person and people who think like her (because believe it or not there were other people who AGREED WITH HER on Facebook. IN PUBLIC).
I want to understand people who are upset about people giving whether it be in wake of a natural disaster or welfare or even immigration.
My best guess is that there are three core beliefs that stop someone from giving: 1) Don’t take what is mine 2) A belief that there is not enough for everyone 3) I’m better than them.
‘Don’t take what is mine’ mentality is HUGE. It’s part of our reptilian brain. People believe that they are entitled to whatever they “earned” or just happen to end up with. Instead of viewing themselves as lucky (lucky to have a good paying job or lucky to grow up in the richest country in the world) and wanting to give back they become hoarders of their good fortune. They see themselves as entitled and they don’t have to share it because the other person didn’t ‘earn’ theirs. But none of us earned being born in the United States, we happened into it. It was not a choice we made but a circumstance we encountered and we should be grateful that we were lucky enough to be born here. We did nothing to earn it. We are a country built on immigrants and the fact that people are looking down on them is infuriating. We are them. Just a few generations ahead.
People who don’t give are also afraid. Afraid there isn’t enough. They live in fear instead of love. People who are afraid of giving aren’t happy people. It shows so strongly. They are bitter and scared and living a life of fear. Hoarding and thinking only about yourself and your family is not going to make the world a better a place and on your death bed will not make you feel like you lived a life you can be proud of.
Studies have shown that feeling connected to people and community is the best way to ensure a happy life. People get married to this idea that helping is taking away from their own self or their own stash when in fact it’s helping them create a more meaningful life. When people give it makes them feel better. Helping and giving are the best ways to feel connected to people and humanity and helps perpetuates the idea of “Treat people the way you want to be treated” If a natural disaster strikes do want people to give and help or do want people to call you an idiot for not evacuating fast enough. The choice (and Karma) is yours.
People also look for arbitrary reasons why they are “better” than others. Better schooling, more money, less money, where they grew up, what kind of clothes or shoes they do or don’t have. If you hold tight to the idea you are ‘better’ than people for whatever reason: you are insecure person. This girl thought she was better then the poor people in Houston because she thinks she would have evacuated quicker. It’s doesn’t show how dumb the people of Houston were but how dumb (and mean) this girl is.
Luckily these people are the exception and not the rule. I am always so proud and impressed with the great acts of kindness and humanity people show in times of tragedy and I strongly believe that most people are good people.
I also strongly believe that life is not about how much you have but about how much you give.