The news is full of little else these days…natural disasters. Earthquakes and of course hurricanes…lots and lots and lots of those. Yes, I believe in global warming. But this is not about that. It is a follow-on to my earlier blog…No One Is Coming!
You see at least with Hurricane Harvey, Texas knew that no one was coming. That ‘president’ failed to activate FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency. You know what?
Texans fared better for it.
Because they did not expect government to come ‘save’ them. They saved themselves. And their neighbors. And strangers too.
The stories are too numerous to mention but one that got me was the pizza store manager who went in to check on how her store was fairing. She discovered that there were families near there who were running out of food. She called her family and friends with boats, fired up the ovens, and they delivered pizzas through the flood waters until she ran out. (Note: Habib – good ole’ boy Texas family name. Not that that should matter.)
As I have said before…I grew up in a different time and a different culture. I was teethed on stories of the Great Depression and one of my favs is always…Eggs, Onions, and Farts. I listened to this one while I played underneath the kitchen table. I hold it close to my heart. For me it epitomizes these people, their lives and the sense of community that I have never found again. It is a story of a particularly hard winter during the Great Depression.
My Nanny (great-grandmother) would fix the hair of our next door neighbor, Miss Ethel. She came over a lot that winter after her husband died of a heart attack. And they talked…about the good ole’ days. That was how we dealt with grief in times before anyone ever heard of stages or steps.
Money was always hard to come by for these working class people, but the Great Depression brought with it a lack and hunger that even they found worrisome. That winter there was very little money to be found. Priorities were paying the mortgage, keeping fires burning to warm their children at night and at least one meal a day. But sometimes even those three simple needs were more than they had money to fulfill.
That winter though one of them had planted a simple vegetable garden with potatoes and onions. The other owned a couple of old hens, enough to ensure a daily supply of three to four eggs each day. These two strong women, who worked long hours in the cotton mill for next to no pay, would come home in time to make dinner of fried potatoes and onions with scrambled eggs. They would stretch their simple feast to feed two husbands, three children and themselves. And on payday they would celebrate with lard and flour enough to add biscuits to their fair.
Occasionally when one of the hens stopped laying eggs they would ring its neck. They told me of how you had to swing it very fast to break the neck quickly and not inflict too much pain on the animal. It may seem brutal, but it was a necessity of life in those days. And if you could have heard them talk of it, you would realize the respect for life that they had…even a chicken’s life that had kept their children alive during the worst of times.
Those occasions were ‘high eatin’ as they would say. A lying chicken was much too tough meat to bake or fry, so they threw it into a pot with some of the onions and potatoes. Sometimes they would even trade a neighbor, a chicken leg for some carrots to sweeten the stew. That Sunday after church the two families would truly have something to give thanks for. And Monday evening they would thin the leftovers with more water and have chicken soup.
You see these people knew something that we do not…
Some things are just TOO BIG for government!
And folks, we might just be living through those tough times all over again. An economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer like never before. A polluted world that is rapidly being depleted of its natural resources while species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. Now this…a string of natural disasters that seem unprecedented.
But whether you are facing the Great Depression, a tropical one, or a mental health crisis, the truth remains…
You must save yourself.
Yes, I know…some people CANNOT save themselves.
That is why YOU must save OTHERS too.
Our greatest strength is always to be found one person, one community at time banding together.
It worked in Texas. I am praying to the goddess that it does in Florida and Mexico as well.
But more importantly, I am doing my best to…