Americans love to help. There is some primordial urge deep in our soul that seeks an outlet for this altruistic imperative. We are at our best when we help., when we comfort the afflicted, the most vulnerable, provide aid, hope, and comfort. It is therapeutic and restorative, and it helps to heal our souls.
We come alive when we help.
The soul, the goodness, and the courage of America manifests itself during crisis. I am reminded of police and firemen rushing into the World Trade Center on 9-11; I am reminded of communities coming together to help each other during natural disasters; I am reminded of the persistent acts of kindness and courage during the pandemic as citizens watch over neighbors, especially the elderly; I am reminded of people on the front lines who fight drug addiction, human trafficking, who fight to stop global warming. I stand in awe of the courage of medical personnel who show up for work every day fighting the corona virus.
This is who we are.
There is another silver lining about helping: it evaporates any prejudices, arrogance, egos, all the while restoring our basic natures, our humility, and most of all, our humanity. Helping connects us, reminding us of our shared humanity, connecting us in a profound way. Helping dismantles the artificial divides constructed with the mortar of fear. We realize that we are all in this together, that our ultimate survival depends on eradicating the lies that fans the divide.
In contrast, this current administration has spent the last 3 ½ years seeking to divide us by force feeding us artificial scapegoats, usually citizens of color: they have labelled Hispanic Americans drug dealers and rapists, American Muslims terrorists, Afro-Americans as coming from shitty countries, and Nazi white supremacists as ‘good people’. We are better than that. When a tragedy presents itself, our better nature is resurrected; we help, and in so doing, our prejudices melt away. Helping is pure; it has been cleansed of fear, hate, and prejudice.
It is inspiring today to follow the heroic stories of Americans sacrificing their lives with a selflessness and a compassion for ‘others’ during this pandemic, usually complete strangers of different races, religions, and ethnicities. It is ironic that crisis excavates the best in us. After 9-11, that feeling of fellowship expired way to fast. Let’s pray that the goodness unleased in our present crisis will never fade, that it strengthens and grows, and that it can disable the hateful rhetoric that spews forth daily from the White House.
Let us embrace our basic natures, goodness, rekindled in this crisis, and use it as a weapon to permanently eradicate the industry complex of hate.