GOOD MEN AND WOMEN
What we have witnessed in the last ten days is the uncontrollable, unthinkable, unbelievable powers of mother nature. Hurricane Harvey ravaged southeast Texas with a “take no prisoners” mentality. Texans knew Harvey was coming as we diligently watched news bulletins and weather radars pinpointing the exact time and location of landfall. The weathermen were on target this time. Preparation for the worst-case scenario came well before Harvey came knocking on our coastal door. Our leaders and courageous citizens stepped forward in real time to protect our community. And along with all the devastation came humanity’s heart and courage to race toward what most of us are running away from. Through the grace of God, men and women risked their lives to offer some modicom of hope to those who were struck the hardest. These are the men and women I wish to address today.
In Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “The Man (or Woman) in the Arena,” he points to the characteristics of true heroes in our midst. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”
Stepping up to take action is a choice we all must face at critical times in our lives, without the fear of criticism or blame. Despite the love that we find in humanity during calamity, why is it that hatred still stands in the way of peace in our lifetime? Look no further than the words of philosopher Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing.” Each of us plays a role in bringing evil to its knees. Each of us is a piece of the puzzle that unites a peaceful world.
During the storm and the aftermath, I had the opportunity to stay at my sister Kathy’s house in Industry. I ran across a book I gave my sister Mary in 2002 by Marianne Williamson titled, “Every Day Grace”. Williamson notes, “Most of us love, to be sure. Yet far too often our love is passive. One who is not committed to love is surrendered to that which opposes it, opening the door to fear as surely as one who consciously welcomes that fear. Our response should not just be that we oppose hate; our response must be that we love the world.”
A quote from French philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, is applicable to the people of southeast Texas as we pick up the pieces of our lives and carry on. “One day, after we have mastered the winds and the waves, gravity and the tides, we will harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in human history, mankind will have discovered fire.” Dare to love greatly!
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.