Hey America. Are you watching Texas? No, not to floodwaters – the people and how they are getting along during the largest natural disaster in US history.
A couple weeks ago our nation was a powder keg of emotionally-charged division. The streets and media channels seemed to be flowing with an ever-increasing volume of hate and divisive words. This was not the America we all knew and loved.
And then came Tropical Storm Harvey.
If you didn’t know, Houston is not only the fourth-largest city in the US, but also carries the distinction of being the most racially and ethnically diverse major metropolis in the nation. To visit this part of the country is to witness what experts project America will be inside of a generation.
Were Houston a box of Crayons, this region would be the big 64-count set – with every nationality, creed, or orientation generously represented.
And herein lies the what I believe is the Texas Miracle.
Tropical Storm Harvey put a hurt-on Texas like nothing ever before in history. Dumping feet of rain in short windows of time, people found themselves fleeing fast-rising waters. The storm’s damage, now estimated at $160 billion, is the largest ever recorded. And Harvey, unfortunately took innocent lives and displaced tens of thousands of people.
Stress, displacement, fear, and uncertainty – the perfect storm for people to turn against each other.
But Texans are different. Fiercely independent and determined to always do the right thing, the DNA of the state is on full display for the nation to witness. In this region populated with every race, creed, color, or orientation, people repeatedly pull together with a higher purpose. To help one another is normal. To help someone during times of need is an unspoken tenant of the Texas fabric.
What some may see coming through television screens as remarkable acts of kindness or generosity is truly not unusual in this fiercely independent part of the country. Texas is a place where a long strong steak of independence continues to run close to the surface. And for those on the coast, getting knocked down repeatedly by Mother Nature is simply part of life. Getting up, rebuilding, and moving forward is a discipline forged over dozens of generations.
When I first arrived on the Gulf Coast of Texas a friend explained to me why, at least in his interpretation, this immigrant-rich region is so welcoming to others and repeatedly rises together during times of crisis.
“During a hurricane, if you see a hand coming up from the water you never stop to wonder who is behind it,” he said. “One day it could be you.”
With all apologies, excuse me if I am not too surprised at seeing people pouring out their hearts or putting themselves into extreme danger to help one another. Learning to respect, value, and put the needs of other ahead of yourself during these trying times is normal. And if this represents the future America, our nation is in good hands.