Define Harvey’s Legacy Now

This space is usually dedicated to thoughts or observations of the world we all share. This week, with Hurricane Harvey coming ashore, is no different.

But today I’d like to encourage everyone to focus on looking around and finding ways to help one another. There are people who may very well be in need during this time and even a well-timed phone call to a shut in can make a difference.

Hurricane Harvey, while now ashore, is now only potentially getting ready to drop dangerous rains on Galveston and surrounding communities. From weather reports, we’ve more rain ahead of us in the next  than behind us. For this we should be careful, cautious, and thoughtful.

I am sure all of us are on the receiving end of emails, calls, and text messages from friends around the country. They mean well and we should be thankful for their concerns. We should also all feel fortunate someone thinks enough of us to reach out during this time. What I’d suggest is to remember the gesture and pay if forward.

Even a forecaster only reports what they think will happen in the future. And we are no different. But what we can do is keep our minds focused on others, looking for opportunities to help not only today, but in the days and weeks ahead. The people who tend to lose the most are many times those with the least to begin with.

I make no secret I am a support of both the United Way and Salvation Army. Both groups do great work in helping those in need. I would encourage you, if you are sincere in your wishes of helping and unsure where to reach out, start with either group. Both can serve as a powerful connection to a larger network of smaller agencies and people working to help others.

Also, take care of your circle of influence – that is family and friends. Make sure older family members are safe and staying put if at possible. Encourage them to not take unnecessary risks. And if a phone call to them would be reassuring, make that call.

The big picture is Hurricane Harvey could be that one day you always talk about – the time you stepped up to lend a hand or help someone else during a time of need. Make that one day be this day.

When the rains pass, here is to hoping the legacy of Hurricane Harvey is it brought out the best in people during a difficult time.

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Reach out:

The United Way of Galveston: 409.762.4357

United Way Galveston County Mainland: 409.948.4211

The Salvation Army of Galveston County: 409.763.1691

 

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Hate Not To Be Taken Lightly

Charlottesville reminds me of what a powerful word hate can play in our lives.

As a child, I hated beans. White beans, navy beans, any beans my mother would serve. And I would use the word protesting them on my plate.

But one day my mother had a talk with me about hate. She was calm and quiet. Hate, she told me, was a word we should carefully reserve for only the most evil of things in life. She also told me, the emotion of hate was to give someone or something else power over me. Considering I had not yet reached double-digits candles on my birthday cake, this might have been a bit difficult to comprehend. But somehow, her words stuck. To this day I sparingly use the word.

Don’t take my mother as a Pollyanna or simpleton to the world around her. At the same kitchen table, she also shared her memories of the Nazi’s destroying her childhood in Europe, and the taking the lives of her neighbors by reducing their homes to rubble as bombs and rockets fell from the nighttime skies. Her stories shook me to my moral compass – some I refuse to ever write or tell others.

But she never outwardly hated anyonep. Sure, she would get upset or angry with others, but to put them in a bucket labeled hate, was something reserved for only the strongest of convictions and moral principles.

This week I am hearing and seeing this word, hate, spewing across everything from apps on my cell phone to newspaper reports. And this is troubling.

The terrible events that unfolded in Charlottesville are horrific. People and lives are forever changed. But will hate go mainstream in America? I pray to God this does not happen.

Hate is a learned behavior. We see it in third-world nations where generations of people hate others without ever looking them in the eyes. ISIS is building an entire generation of fighters against the West with this primitive formula: embed and incite hate against another.

Hate is evil. In the truest sense of the word, hate is a sledgehammer preventing two people from ever being able to trust or respect one other. And once that bridge is destroyed, rarely does one come back.

What I fear is that people will too easily surrender to hate, turning on one another, forever destroying a chance for us to be one people working towards one goal in this nation.

You are not born hating another. Rather, you either learn it through experiences or being taught to hate. But rational people don’t cross the line without first understanding what awaits on the other side: anger, pain, and a smaller world.

I hurt for Charlottesville. I also hurt for families explaining these tragic events to their children. This is one of the most important responsibilities of parenting. I pray – and trust – they will make the right decisions and not plant the seeds of hate. Our nation may depend on it.

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Every Day Is A New Day

A friend was telling me about how in when in high school he missed an important test. He had gone out of town on a Thursday night with a friend to a concert and on the way back their car broke down. Unable the get home, they stayed the night with a friend’s family member, eventually making their way home the next day.

He missed an important test on the Friday morning. Being the honest person, he told the school about the car breaking down on the way home – keeping him from taking the test. The school, however promptly issued an unexcused absence, preventing him from taking the test.

My friend was crushed. Not only was the test important, but also he was being shown his honesty was costing him the opportunity to take the test at all. Asking his parents to fib an excuse for his being sick, would have allowed him an excused absence – therefore be able to test with the other students.

“But you know what?” he said. “As big of a deal it was then, it’s not like it kept me from seeing the world.”
My friend is not kidding. He’s lived and seen the world – and he’s not done. But the lesson he took from his experience was no matter what, you alone chart your own course in life. Each and everyday you accept the world around you, try to understand the circumstances, and make decisions to move you forward. Every day is an opportunity to live your life as you dream.

Perspective is an important element over the course of life. My friend and I are now in the second half working towards living a century. He even refers to this stage as mid-life. I remind him of the math – how we’d have to exceed 100 by nearly a decade.

But both us understand, from this vantage point in life, very little that seems a big deal at the moment is a truly a big deal in life. Life moves at its own pace and, if you will make the effort, it will let you chart your own course over time.

Life is a bit like sailing a boat. Waters can become difficult and unpredictable. And winds can be in your face or at your back. But the one thing for sure is your direction rest solely in your actions, your mindset, and your hands.

I wish I’d known when I lost a parent. I wish I’d known that when I found myself on the outside looking in after a particularly difficult semester in college. I wish I’d known that when I found myself in what I thought was a dead end job.

In the end, the outcomes all rested with me. There were moments that changed my life, but like a winds, I was able to use each as a catalyst to redirect my attention, my efforts, and where I ultimately wanted to sail.

The difference is I know now I can sail anywhere.

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