A Personal Perspective
BY MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE
It is remarkable how a national tragedy can squash—at least temporarily—the rhetoric and violence of hate. It shouldn’t take a hurricane or attacks by terrorists to bring us together—but, often, that is exactly what it takes.
It was just two weeks ago that violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, when people of ill will and goodwill clashed around the issue of race, religion and other things that divide us—but really should not. Heather Heyer, a young woman on the side of good, was killed when a homegrown terrorist drove his car through the crowd of counter-protestors. Meanwhile, the president’s response did nothing but embolden hate-filled people.
But for the past several days, the nation has been united in sympathy at the tragedy wrought by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and other parts of Texas. Now, Harvey’s tour of terror has touched down in Louisiana. Not only are the professionals in each state proving their commitment to the call of duty, just as ours here in New York City have always done, but ordinary citizens are showing up in droves to use their own resources, mainly small boats, to help rescue those stranded in flooded homes and automobiles. Even reporters are becoming “part of the news” by helping pull people to safety.
They say everything is bigger in Texas and Harvey has proven that, but we are also seeing that people’s hearts are also big in Texas. But why must we wait until backs are against the wall to come together? Collectively, we are way better than terror groups, whose actions in Charlottesville and other parts of the country keep taking us back to the horrific past.
When there is a president in the White House who makes KKK members feel empowered to march without their hoods, you know we are living in strange and dangerous times. When people feel it’s OK to wear and display Nazi paraphernalia and make Nazi salutes, we know that we all need to rise up and say, “Heck no!” We are not going back there. But when we encounter natural disasters and large scale terrorism, we come together for the greater good. We should not wait for these things in order to show our humanity. This should be our norm.
It’s like people talking about “going on” or “being on” a diet. That does not work in the long run. Doing right by your health has to be a lifestyle. Decency toward one another should be a natural, everyday occurrence. It has to be part of who we are as a people and as human beings. It might be corny to some, but the Walmart commercial featuring The Youngbloods’ classic “Get Together” sets the perfect tone in the wake of Charlottesville. The 1960s folk hit’s chorus is as corny as they come, but sometimes corny works: “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.”
Released while the Vietnam War still raged, the song must have resonated with anti-war protestors. It surely resonates now as the commercial depicts individuals of diverse ethnic persuasions grabbing chairs and heading off to a communal meal at an outdoor table that goes on forever. Not quite Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” but the gist is that there should be love and harmony amongst us.
In the meantime, those who can are encouraged to donate at least $10 to the American Red Cross. That is one way in which we can show our love and support for those who are suffering through this nightmare. It was almost five years ago that Super Storm Sandy gave the tri-state area a lashing to remember. We should never lose sight of the fact that there but for the grace of God go us again.
In the meantime, let’s “try to love one another right now.”