Shelby Spear is a mother of three and avid Christian. She has dedicated her life to writing, whether that be on her personal blog with the mission of helping one find one’s true self and finding a connection with God or to publishing articles about humanity for outlets like the Huffinton Post and the Thrive Global. The quote she uses as motivation for her work is “to inspire, encourage, and love one another forward through the beautiful role we’ve been given.”
Throughout the month of September, traumatizing images of the disaster Hurricane Harvey brought to Houston, Texas infiltrated the Internet. But within the span of those images came forth photographs of the humaneness of the Houston community, showing people jumping into dangerous waters and providing aid to those hurt amidst the storm and flooding. Author Shelby Spear saw these photographs, and in her article called Why Does It Take a Tragedy or Disaster to Unite Humanity emphasized the beauty behind such actions and the need for society to carry such love into every day, normal life. Spear attributes the kind actions of individuals during and after a disaster to the inner workings of our beings and how they were built on love and compassion, not hate and petty behaviors. She emphasizes that hate is taught, not born, attributing God for wiring humanity to love and not hate. But while she draws attention to this point, Spears makes sure to note that hate still is prevalent to a large extent today. She proposes the way to bring forth such generosity to average living is to realize the differences between people, like political affiliation and or personal beliefs, and to accept that such differences will forever exist, identifying that behind every cruel gesture is another human being with similar love born into them. She concludes the piece by applauding the compassion of the Houston community and the need of more cameras to capture more kindness within society to promote love amongst individuals every day.
Text of the article:
As the unfathomable images, videos, commentary about Hurricane Harvey continue to pour in from every media source, the reality of our frailty and vulnerability as humans stares back at us.
Mother nature can’t be tamed. She has a mind of her own and it is in her life force to be free. We are at her mercy.
Last week, pre-Harvey, images of protests, riots, beatings, tongue lashings, cyber ranting filled up screens on every media platform from dawn til dusk. The reality of our frailty and vulnerability as humans stared back at us—for different, yet also unfathomable, reasons.
The violence, hatred, vitriol a reminder that perhaps humanity can’t be tamed either.
Or can we?
Looking at the collateral beauty of the devastation in Houston, the everyday heroes, first responders. caring neighbors, Cajun Navy, loving citizens—people helping people—proves the opposite.
Our nature as human beings is also to be free—free to reach out and help another without restraint. Why? Because our truest self was created to love, to have compassion, to save a life if a life needs saving. In an instant we are capable of jumping into action without a single self-serving thought. In a split second, something inside us instinctively knows what to do when another human is in danger. That something is to love them, help them, save them.
We are wired to love at our core, and tragedy, disaster, trauma flips a switch inside us. It converts negative energy related to all things trivial, petty, fleeting, hurtful, and divisive into heartfelt focus on relationship to our fellow man. Connection and unity—our true life force—takes over. We put all things “me” aside for all things “you.” What a phenomenon.
Can you imagine if instead of instinctively helping our brothers and sisters in time of need we made a conscious choice to first evaluate whether the person was worthy of being saved? If we put their belief system, orientation, political alignment, race, religion, life choices, and their stance on hot button issues to the litmus test of our righteous idea of what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s acceptable and unacceptable, before the value of their life?
What if the beautiful people of Texas, before jumping in dangerous waters to save someone from drowning, harbored a divisive attitude and first asked the struggling person the following: Are you conservative or liberal? Who did you vote for? What’s your sexual orientation? What camp are you in on this particular issue? Do you support this group? How about that movement? Who do you worship? Are you a legal citizen? What’s your nationality? Do you do drugs? Did you have an abortion?
The answer to what happens if we pause for even a moment to ask these questions is imminent death. If not physical, emotional death is certain. I can’t bear to imagine the inner damage of being in a life threatening situation and asked questions to prove whether I was worthy of living–especially worthy as determined by my fellow man.
If we were to dig our heels further into righteousness and refuse to see a real life with a beating heart behind the labels we project on a person, everyone could die. Or at best, only certain groups of people would survive. Feels like this is already happening on an emotional scale. God help us.
But let’s thank God we aren’t wired this way in the depths of our soul. It’s not in our nature—at least not during tragedy when trauma levels the playing field. Unspeakable terror causes the walls between us to become invisible. Lines in the sand blow away, and the anger, righteousness, arrogance, pain, resentment, bitterness, rage dissipates. Instantly. Well, for sure in the immediate path of destruction. Sadly, it won’t take long to find a talking head removed from the situation who’s continuing to spout divisive rhetoric.
The question is, why do we so often restrain our innate instinct to love outside of disaster? Why do we resist the urge to see past the false layers hiding the real heart of a person? Why do we choose to be the storm rather than the person who saves another from the storm?
Yes, we have a mind of our own and the gift—some may say curse—of free will, but how do we choose self-control and let go of wanting to be right, prove a point? We aren’t going to agree on everything. Ever. And we shouldn’t because evil exists everywhere and other people will disappoint, hurt, and disrespect us. Righteous anger is justified against the demons of the world. And we must defend and protect the innocent.
But to what extent do we unleash our rage and call it justified? When is being a tornado, tsunami, hurricane, flood, earthquake, landslide in another person’s life too much? Because behind every cruel gesture is another created being. Another human with the same inner beauty and love breathed into them at conception.
Somehow we know this in times of trouble. Somehow we are able to respect this in disaster.
Somehow we need to figure out how to carry this love forward into our everyday, normal life. It is not our calling to drown others or blow them off the map because they are “different” from us. Never was.
Thank you, #Houston, for showing us what real love is. Sounds to me like you all modeling such compassion is the status quo in your neck of the woods. The cameras just happen to be there now capturing your kind spirit in action. We need more of these cameras to capture the beauty of our generous civilization across the country because true love exists everywhere. If only our goal as a nation was to expose it.
It is my prayer that we not wait for another disaster to see such love come to light.
And it is my intention to stop being a storm when I feel justified and to instead be LOVE.
God speed, Houston. You have my heart.