A Tale of Two Cities
By Jason Bradley
If you’ve been plugged in at all lately, you can’t help but have heard of the tornado that ripped through Moore, OK, tearing apart schools, homes, and an entire community. At current count, twenty-four people have lost their lives. Seven of them are children. The death count is expected to rise. It was one of the most devastating tornadoes on record.
Let me tell you about what I’ve seen in the midst of this tragedy. The community came together. It’s what people always do in a time like this. A strip mall was completely decimated, while across the street, the Home Depot stood fast. What did the Home Depot do? Not only did it keep its doors open, it locked the cash registers, and didn’t accept money for anything that people needed to help the clean up begin. Neighbors are helping neighbors. People are coming from surrounding states, like Texas, and even further away to help feed, clothe, and clean. The best that humanity has to offer is on display. Yet, FEMA is nowhere to be found. The people in Oklahoma don’t care either. Rather than wait for help to come, they pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make it happen.
Let’s rewind to 2011, a smaller tornado ripped through North Minneapolis. Again, people started to come out from across the Metro to help with the feeding and cleaning. Then the government came to “help”. I remember reading a story about professional help being sent away (and threatened with tickets) because they didn’t have a license to trim trees in the City of Minneapolis. Needless to say, there is still incomplete work in the area. There are all sorts of blue tarps over unfinished roofs and vacant homes. Help has been controlled through enforcement, grants, and other financial aid from the City of Minneapolis.
I’m not trying to politicize this. I just want to remind you that the best help comes from inside our communities in a time of tragedy. We need to get to know our neighbors again, because there may come a time when we need each other. Our churches should be integrally involved in our communities from feeding the hungry to comforting those going through tragedy in the community. Our government tries to tell us that we’re only as good as the collective. I argue that it’s the power of the individual that matters. The “collective” is only as good as the individual. It is only when we decide that we are the last line of defense, the first line of healing and restoration, that we can take the power back. It takes, however, being willing to get out and interact with our neighbors. I tell you, I go out for a walk with my family and it takes us about an hour to go eight blocks. Why? Because we stop to talk to our neighbors that are outside walking their dogs, working in their yards, etc. That is what we all need if we’re going to make it through tough times. Only you can change the environment of your community. It’s done through getting out of our routines and our homes. It’s done through getting involved in your community.
So the question remains: do you want to wait for others to fix you, or do you want to come together and fix yourselves? The greatest power is in the community. The most well-prepared individuals will be the ones that participate in creating a strong community. Let us remember and pray for the storm-stricken in Oklahoma (and give where we can), and use this as a much needed warning to come together and get prepared.