There’s nothing like a major hurricane to change your perspective on a lot of things.
As I write this I’m sitting in my office in NJ, with power, safe and warm. 20 minutes from here there are people who lost their homes, their jobs, some even their lives…everything. And the temperature is dropping. If that doesn’t make you stop and think, nothing will.
There is much to be written about this event. Memories of hiding in our homes Monday night and listening to the wind shriek, hoping that a tree wouldn’t fall on our house (one did fall 4 doors down, right through their bedroom. They weren’t in it at the time, thank God.) After getting power back, looking at all the television images of devastation of the places we’ve taken for granted, shores where we’ve spent every summer since we were kids. Gas lines. Driving generators to neighbors who still don’t have power, a week later. A wire on fire in the middle of the street, melting the asphalt. Dropping off food we prepared for ourselves in the event of a long power outage to the local distribution point to be driven to people who lost everything only 20 minutes away. We were the lucky ones this time.
But what I want to share with you has more to do with online posts during the time. Facebook became a lifeline for many of us, myself included. It was where we could check up on our neighbors right after the storm (when we could get a cell signal), find out where we could help, pass along information on power outages, trees and wires down, which supermarkets still had food, which stores were open, which gas lines were shortest.
But one of the things that broke my heart during this time was the hateful and insensitive rhetoric. Blaming this politician or that for something they did or didn’t say. Hurling insults at New Yorkers who had just lost everything, somehow insinuating that they wouldn’t help their neighbors like people in the South would. Trying to hawk candles for “next time” when we were still just recovering. Blaming this relief organization or that power company for failure, when all of us on the ground see how hard they’re trying amid a senseless, devastating situation. All of it became something we just glossed over as we looked for the information we needed. But it made me shake my head and made me sad.
Don’t get me wrong…I understand we’re in election season. But it’s possible to share a viewpoint without hate. And I fear we’re losing that. Just because we disagree, we don’t have to hate each other.
Many of us in this area have just been trying to get back to normal. The shock we’ve been through feels a bit like it did when we experienced 9/11. Sometimes it feels like we’re just going through the motions, trying to fix something when so much has gone so badly.
But the next time you decide to post something online, think for just a minute about how it might make a storm survivor feel. Many people are talking about how they want to help. Well this is one way. Consider how your post might impact someone who has just gone through this storm. And maybe soften it. Or don’t post at all. How important is that post anyway?
That’s my two cents. What do you think?
p.s. If you want to help storm survivors and get some holiday shopping done at the same time, here’s a list of direct sellers who are holding fundraisers for storm victims. Shop with any of them and a percentage of profits goes directly to the relief effort: https://www.facebook.com/jenfongspeaks/posts/10151299470945318 (And if you’ve got a fundraiser going on, feel free to add it to the list.)