It is with much trepidation that I share these thoughts, as I suspect they may not sit well with some folks. And that’s okay.
My heart aches deeply for the people of Louisiana who are suffering in the aftermath of what is being called the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy.
The images being shared with the world, so many suffering, so much sadness—it’s all so overwhelming. And for those of us who have fought our way back following Hurricane Katrina, there’s a special kind of empathy. We are kindred spirits. We understand.
As was the case after Katrina, the massive devastation has led many to question their faith, their God, their existence. They wonder how a just God could allow such devastation.
Thirteen known deaths and an estimated seven billion gallons of water. And, according to NOLA.com, “as many as 188,729 occupied houses and 507,495 people — 11 percent of the state’s population — were affected by the flood.”1 It’s a tragedy of epic proportions.
That such could occur in the month following other national-newsmaking events brings pause for ponder.
The July 5 shooting of Alton Sterling set off a chain of events that intensified racial tension, not just in Baton Rouge, but around the nation. On July 7, five law enforcement officers were slain in Dallas, which many believe was an act of retaliation in response to the Sterling shooting. In cities throughout the U.S., there were protests and demonstrations, some peaceful, some not. On July 17, six Baton Rouge officers were shot, three fatally, with the shooter having made his intentions clear: this was his payback on behalf of Sterling. Collectively, these events brought some of the darkest hours in the community’s history.
But here’s the thing.
In some ways, the Baton Rouge flooding is somewhat of a modern day Noah’s Ark event.
When the non-stop rain pummeled the area, it did more than flood homes. It washed away the racial divide. Suddenly, there were no more blacks, or whites or Hispanics. There were no gay or straight or transgendered people. There were just people. Humans in need. And others who wanted to help. And pets. Lots of pets.
In a most unexpected way, the floods seem to have restored humanity at a time it is greatly needed.
Now, I’d never be so insensitive as to suggest that such was an act or an intention of God. But I can say this much: the way we are living now, in the wake of the flood, free of prejudice, free of judgment, filled with compassion, showing so much love—I can think of fewer things more God-like.
Like so many, I will continue to pray for the families who lost so much, including loved ones, during the terrible disaster, and will do what I can to help. And though it will take time, so much time, our neighbors who have flooded will recover. And hopefully, someday they will be stronger for it.
But just imagine the possibilities.
What if the love-one-another existence in which we are living could continue long after the last bits of soggy sheetrock and flood-soaked carpets are gone?
What if we could remain color blind, and focus on working together, in unity, as so many have done during this event?
Love isn’t all we need. But it’s a great place to start.
1Source: Nola.com/Ezra Boyd of Mandeville, who holds a Ph.D. in geography from LSU.