In dire emergency good people arise

Published 4:05 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013

As I write this early on Feb. 26 dawn is breaking over Tryon beneath a pouring rain.

We are under a winter weather advisory, Henderson County is having an ice storm, the Midwest is struggling through yet another blizzard, a priest friend of mine in Boothbay Harbor, Maine cannot get out of her house because of the snow drifts, and there are severe storms and tornado warnings over central Florida.

A few days ago I sat at the bar in the Hare and the Hound Pub in Landrum and watched it snow out a golf tournament in Tuscon, Ariz. Now I could go on and on about climate change and expose you to my environmental politics, but I will save that for another time. What I want to talk about today is human nature in the face of catastrophes – natural or man-made.

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If you will remember, a few days ago the media was flooded with the news of a cruise ship adrift in the Caribbean. Some internal disaster had left the ship without power in the middle of the ocean and it took several days to tow it back to shore. The passengers were left with little food and water, were plagued by terrible sewage problems, and even took to sleeping on the decks in makeshift tents to escape the fetid conditions in the lower decks. A lot of media time focused on the physical conditions and the cruise line’s response, but only a very few commentators talked about the care the people on that ship gave to one another. Upper berth passengers opened their cabins to strangers, food and water was shared, personal medications were brought out and exchanged as needed. In short, they rallied together in the face of trouble to be a community of helping hands for one another.