We don’t have to wait for disasters to think of others

By Lynn Moncus: QCS columnist

Many of us have been in an emotional turmoil since Katrina ravaged the southern states and have done much serious thinking about the fragility of life and the rapidity with which material possessions can be destroyed.

When such a disaster hits so close to home, we are particularly touched because we are more aware than ever of our own vulnerability. Actually, we could drive to New Orleans in a matter of 15 hours or less, making us realize just how near those neighbors are. As we sit here in comfort, we cannot really know how those people feel — their fears, their loss, their desperation. We cannot even begin to know what our own reactions would be.

We tend to get a bit excited if a relative or friend disappears for a few hours, but we cannot think what we would do were we to be separated from our families and have no idea as to whether or not we would ever see them again. We get upset when we lose a small item but cannot imagine how we would feel were we to lose all our possessions, knowing we could never replace many of them. We most definitely cannot imagine how we would feel were we surrounded by such death and destruction.

Although we are too attached to most of our possessions, they become unimportant when we think about the loss of so many people. We have but to look around us to realize we would be distraught to become separated from our friends and relatives and would let those possessions go in order to protect any one of the people in our area. We would finally become aware of the value of life and think of others instead of ourselves.

We have visited much about what we might or might not do were we told we were in immediate danger. Some friends listed the items they would try to take with them, and others talked about the people they would want to see to safety. We all came to the conclusion that we would have many people in our community who would be unable to leave because of lack of transportation and would need assistance in one big hurry.

As we talked about some of them, I watched some of my friends mentally put aside some of their possessions in order to make room for an extra person or two in their cars.
We became more conscious of how helpless we could become were we asked to leave someone else behind while we made an escape.

Some of us even decided we’d rather stay behind with our relatives instead of going ahead without them. Others of us decided we just as soon let another person take our place if we knew that person could be safe. We began to have some semblance of understanding of those people who were unable to get away from Katrina and even some of those who preferred to remain on their home ground because that was the only home they had ever known.

We can but hope we are never faced with such decisions, but we may be a little more aware that we might have to make them after watching all that has happened to our neighbors. We might even become more considerate of others in our vicinity and see that they are safe. We don’t have to wait for disasters to think of others.