“He awoke to the sound of a boom and a shaking that he had never felt before. As he turned to flip the lamp on, he realized the power was out. He was sitting in total darkness. But usually, with darkness, it was quiet. Not this time. He heard faint car alarms, destruction and worst of all, shrieking and screaming. He found himself somewhere between still being half asleep, terrified and curious. Stepping out of the bedroom, there was another boom, but this time, more of a cracking sound and further in the distance. Still, the shaking was felt, even if the sound was further away. He stumbled to the front door and slowly opened it, not knowing what to really expect.
Stepping outside, the prevailing feeling became terrified as the city he was standing in was littered with fires, wrecked vehicles and people running through the streets trying to escape something that had horrified them. In that moment, several thoughts began running through his head. “What is everyone running from?”, “Should I just start running with them?”, “Is this war, anarchy, zombies?”, “Do I go back inside and just lock the door?” The thought that kept repeating between all of these other jumbled thoughts made the most sense. “What the hell is going on here??”
Strangely, amid the internal questioning and taking in the surroundings, there was a moment of clarity, a moment of calm. Almost trance like, he began walking in the direction the people were coming from. He didn’t know where this decision had come from or what he was even doing walking in that direction. His body was just making the movements, with no regard to the trepidation in his head. Pure chaos passed him on the streets as he walked towards the center of town. As he approached a flashing red stop light at an intersection, apparently running on some emergency generator, something caught his attention. There was a gas station to his left. There was a faint sound of a person, calling out. As he made his way closer to the station, he could see the outline of a person reaching out of the partially blocked entry doors to the facility. The constant rumbling and shaking had toppled the sign from the storefront and it sat twisted across the doorway. The person was alone, hoping and reaching for someone to pull them from the collapsing backdrop. He approached the door and moved the sign just enough for the door to sling open and she jumped into his arms. She could not get the “Thank You” out fast enough before he turned to run grabbing her hand. It was time to run with the crowd now instead of heading into it.
They ran from street to street, surveying the landscape, thinking internally and sometimes aloud, but clinging to each other. They didn’t know where they were going, what they were running from or even each other’s names. They were just going on instincts. Those instincts told them to run, to stay with each other because 2 heads were better than 1 and they needed to find somewhere safe. They reached a small opening in what appeared to be a bridge that had collapsed. There was only one little opening so they went in and it opened up enough for them to hide. They were able to pull some metal and shrapnel over the opening and they finally introduced themselves to each other. Somehow they just knew at that moment that they were meant to find each other during this event. It was just one more unexplainable moment in what had turned out to be the most unexplainable evening of their lives.
The loud crashes and chaotic sounds finally subsided. They chose to continue to wait, partly out of common sense that they needed to let the dust completely settle and partly out of fear that their minds were just tricking them into thinking everything was ok. After what felt like several days had passed, he thought the time was right to check everything out. He grabbed her hand and they emerged from the rubble together. The sun was shining bright, the fires were gone and there was silence all around. Whatever caused this had come and gone and they were standing together looking at what was left of the city they called home. They walked back down the street they frantically ran up a couple of days before. Now, just slowly walking, in silence, holding hands. They began to notice people starting to come into view from the various hiding spots they had jumped in. There weren’t as many people as before but they were coming out to see the sun as well. As they approached the center of town, they realized that whatever was happening previously was over. They were safe again. They began to let their guard down a little. They even glanced at each other and smiled for a moment. When they did, they both knew that they had made it together. He was led into that chaos for a reason, although he didn’t know at the time. She needed someone to hold her hand so she would know that she was not alone in the crumbling world. But now, it was over and everyone was slowly making their way back to their homes and shelter. They turned and just looked at each other, not knowing whether to say goodbye to each other or use this chance meeting as a glimpse into humanity they hadn’t seen in a while. So, they just continued to hold hands and just stood there.”
My friends, we are in a very difficult time in our existence. The human race has been here before but this is sort of new for my generation. Have we experienced trying times? Of course we have but this feels like a new day, a new level of burdens and worries. People we thought we knew turn out to be someone altogether different. Friends we thought we had turn out to be strangers. We have become devoted to our 24 hour news cycle and adherent to our social media shares. We take it all for gospel without using our own judgments and never question validity or legitimacy. I love social media as much as the next person and Alicia would probably tell you that I love it too much. But in today’s world, it hurts us as much, if not more, than it helps us. It feeds hatred and spurs commentary without fear of retribution.
The story above is representative of the society that we are in right now and I use it to bring up a few thoughts for your consideration. I don’t know how to answer or address all of the thoughts yet but I think we are being forced to think about it. We may not have all the answers or fully understand why we are where we are today. We may not even know where we are, or at least we haven’t accepted it yet. I can tell you where I think we are. We are standing on our doorstep, looking at a burning city, a burning state, a burning country. There are people running in all directions, using their own misguided assumptions or what their friends tell them or what the internet tells them to determine the type of person they are going to be or, in some cases, they feel like they have to be, to survive.
Sometimes, we can’t listen to all of the thoughts in our head about what’s happening around us. Our minds are not always our friends. What we need to be able to do is listen to what our heart is telling us. We need to be able to turn into the direction the fearful are running from and find someone who needs help. If we are the ones that need help, we need to reach out and let someone do just that when they have offered. Whichever person we are, we also need to be mindful of each other. We need to recognize the calling of the hurt or the scared. We need to recognize those that hold our hands when we are the ones calling out. We can not do this alone. We must help each other; most definitely if we are friends, but even if we are strangers.
We have to believe in each other. We have to believe in ourselves. We have to believe that we can repair our society. We have to believe that we have some control and we have some say in how our lives turn out. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. Will it ever be perfect like in the movies? I think the honest response is that we have advanced too far to answer that affirmatively. I do know there are good people out there though. We can not allow ourselves to be represented by the few. We have to stand for what we believe in and hold the hand of that person next to us that is looking for something to believe in. We can be a light to someone, even if it is just one other person. Really, that’s all it would take if we all did it. If you can’t be a light, find someone who is and cling to them. We don’t have to save the world but we can start by saving each other.
This is not just for the people that are struggling with worldly/societal issues either. This could be for the person that doesn’t know how they are going to afford their next grocery cart full of goodies. Someone who has been abandoned by people they love. Someone who has lost a loved one. Someone who is ill and has struggled with coping. Look next to you in the checkout line or at the red light or at the dinner table. We are all hurting right now through some cause. We have to help each other. We are all we have! A movie star isn’t going to save us. Nor is our government. Our snapchat friends and twitter followers are not going to be our light. We have to look within and to the people that are physically in our lives. There is a lot of fear in our eyes right now. We don’t know what is going on around us but we know we need to run for shelter. While we are running, we need to pick up those that need to be there with us.
My final point relates to the final paragraph of the passage. When we reach out to someone and they accept our helping hand, or vice versa, we can’t tell them goodbye and retreat to our lives when the coast is clear. This is covered ever so gracefully in a song by Thrice, “Stay With Me.” I am asking you all to reach out during a time of need. Now is a time for friendship and caring. But I want you to answer the questions posed in the song – “Would you stay with me, if you thought the war was over and everything made right? Would you still believe in us? Would your love for me grow colder with no one left to fight?” Really think about it.
Think about someone who has been there for you when you thought your world could not get any worse. When things got better, how easy was it for you to go back to your old ways and forget the ones that reached out their hand? This can be said about personal relationships, religion, really anything. I’m guilty so I am not trying to be hypocritical either. When we struggle, we reach out to friends, pastors, family and God. They don’t only need to hear from us during those times. I can think of a handful of people I have met in very difficult circumstances. I didn’t know why or how I met them and didn’t really question it at the time. I do know that those people will forever have a place in my heart and they mean a lot to me. They will never be forgotten. It’s time for us to become unforgettable. It’s time for us to do things the right way, regardless of what our society says we should do. Friends, we are now in a very difficult set of circumstances and we need to make room in our hearts for those that are hurting and those that need it the most.