Some of you won’t know that I write from Brisbane, Queensland in Australia. This has been a week of public crisis here due to never-before-experienced flooding all over the state. Whole towns have been swept away, somewhere between 20-60 people have died, and thousands of peoples homes and businesses are damaged or destroyed. The Brisbane River’s flood peaked sometime last night. It’s been breathtaking and humbling.
Situations like these bring out the best in most people. Neighbors spontaneously helped others shift themselves and their goods to higher ground, moved elderly or frail people to safe harbors, offered their homes as refuges, and checked on anyone they thought might be in need. Maybe it’s just an Australian thing, but there has been no audible whining (or whinging, as they say here).
Other states of Australia, and even New Zealand, have sent trained rescue workers and equipment to assist in gathering up the many people stranded by unexpected surges, walls of water that sweep all before them.
It’s particularly painful for me as a dual American/Australian citizen that while this crisis and response are happening locally, back in the motherland the conversation is vitriolic, sparked by a senseless act of murder and mayhem, and even worse by the defense of a public discourse rife with verbal images of violence. “Lock and load”? Crosshairs? How did it come about that this is the current tenor of info-tainment? How can anyone continue to defend everyone’s right to own guns, even automatic weapons? My own generosity doesn’t yet extend to understanding these positions.
These two worlds are occurring simultaneously. They both seem quite real to me, and somehow the flood alarms me less than the future of America. Brisbane and Queensland will recover. Farms will replant, mines will redesign, tourism will revive, and people will rebuild.
More on right speech and generosity next time.