Hurricane Harvey & Pepto-Bismol

One of the things that scares me about writing a blog is that I may sound like a know-it-all.  Who hell am I to write about subjects as if I have greater insight than everyone else?  I don’t.

On the contrary, the older I get, the more I realize how little I know.  I’m not blissful in my ignorance; but rather excited by all that I must learn and discover; which I why I am annoyed by those people who think that they are the experts on Every.  Damn.  Thing.  Everything!

I’ve been reading comments online from people all over the world, commenting on what they would have done were they facing the wrath of Hurricane Harvey; and then commenting on what those people who have been affected are doing wrong.  These people need to take some Pepto-Bismol up the butt so it will stop their mouths from running.  Truth be told, most of us don’t know what in the hell we will do when disaster strikes.

Perhaps it makes us feel in control to feel as though we have a plan for anything that may happen to us.  We may feel strengthened with the idea that we could and would expertly handle all life’s challenges:

  • Man, if a hurricane was coming to my town, I’d get my family and we’d roll to Hawaii for a week.
  • Shoot, you wouldn’t catch me living in an area like that without owning a boat.
  • If there is a natural disaster heading my way, I’m out before the Mayor.
  • Them folks should’ve just gone to their shelter the night before.
  • How do you NOT have a house full of groceries knowing a storm is coming?

This is the deal though: even the smartest, calmest person in the world can’t be confident about how she will react in stressful situations (even a person who has lived through the exact same situation, may act differently the next time).  There are a couple of fundamental dynamics that make this so:

  1. We are human, not robots. We’ve got hormones, varying stress and happiness levels, age, mental acuity, and other characteristics that affect how we react to things from day-to-day.  Just ask my kids.  One day they can be wrestling in the middle of my living room and I think it’s cute horseplay between brothers; the next day, I think they are out-of-control banshees, who ain’t got no home trainin’.
  2. You can only assess based upon your perspective — the facts and experiences in your life. I have been most disgusted at the people who said how quickly they would leave an area if a hurricane was predicted.  News flash: it takes money to move — even temporarily.  If you have $30.00, four kids, and only use public transportation, how in the hell are you going anywhere?  If you live with your handicapped mother, who struggles to even move to the bathroom; or work an hourly job that you can’t afford to lose and that has indicated that they expect you to be at work; or if you have nowhere to go (not everyone has close family connections or friends) what are you supposed to do?
  3. Some people who live in hurricane zones have heard predictions for hurricanes every year for all of their lives. Rarely has one ever touched down.  It’s a gamble, but many feel as if odds are on their side (California, the most populous state in the country, has the same issue with earthquakes).

Something is wrong with us when we blame victims.  At the core, there is something disgusting and repugnantly arrogant about focusing on what someone may have done wrong when nothing in their lives is right.  You just don’t know… you really don’t know, what folks are feeling and why they do they things they do, so stop judging and start loving.  Start loving.

If you believe; pray.  If you are able; give.  If you can; go.

And if you can’t do any of those things –then at least just shut up.

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About Randi B.

Randi is a diversity and inclusion strategist, speaker, trainer and writer, focusing on making connections and cultivating empathy in this diverse world one trip, speech, article, book and conversation at a time.

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