The tragedy of Hurricane Ian as it destroys the lives of people up and down the Florida coast and elsewhere, is a nightmare for the victims, and for our country as well. But I witnessed something most remarkable in a news story shown on TV. The uniqueness of this simple act of kindness is, at least temporarily, showing something that many will not notice. And it should be noted, for it takes away the obsession we are forced to swallow in our fractured society.
The footage showed a black woman stranded on the rooftop of her home in Naples, Florida, lovingly clutching her pet cat. She wore a T-shirt that said ‘Black Lives Matter’. A man in a motorboat, presumably a neighbor, pulled up to rescue her. He was a large fellow and a wore a bright red MAGA cap. Once she and her cat were safely aboard the craft, she hugged him and kissed him. He provided her with water and a warm blanket as she settled down. He was not a first responder, nor military. Just a neighbor helping a neighbor. Two weeks ago, they would have been embroiled in opposite narratives, extreme in their nature. Today, however, just two human beings navigating through a tragedy.
It struck me with feeling of true humanity, and what we really are underneath the façade of ridiculous ideology. I’ve noticed too, that all across the areas affected, the same story is playing out over and over again. No one is asking ‘how do you identify’? No one accusing anyone of racism or expressing outward hatred of those who are different.
It is a shame that no one notices this. As a side effect of an unfolding tragedy, we become the united Americans that we saw after 9/11. It is also a shame that we will probably return to the strange set of affairs once the wind and rain stop blowing. I am not looking forward to the calm. I still have a sense of dread of someone telling me they ‘identify’ as a weeping willow tree, or a vomit filled tirade from someone who calls Jews and Israel apartheid racists. I also am filled with hope that these insane ideologies will be seen for what they are, pure vomit.
I can pretty much guarantee that this nonsense was not discussed in that small boat. Compassion is natural, narratives of hate are invented. I hope to keep my moral compass pointed in the right direction. I hope we all do. I’m sure the cat would agree too.