*Editors note, this was a piece that I had written when I was in college during the time of Hurricane Katrina, the deadly hurricane that struck New Orleans and various others southern states in 2005. Because of recent events, and that the Biblical references and messages relate to the season of Lent, I felt it wise to bring this piece back.
I hope that those who read this piece take away that it is important for us not to dismiss the pains of others, and to feel good about the fact that those pains did not happen to us. We should, instead, put ourselves in their place and try to help.
We, as humans, all have selfish tendencies and needs, and many sometimes resort to only thinking of ourselves when we feel we are unable to do anything. But, we can always do something. We should never ignore our neighbor's cries for help. Furthermore, as Christians, we are taught that when we feel as if we cannot help our neighbor, prayer is a very powerful tool of assistance.
Let us all come together and think of others first. Let us first think of others instead of putting ourselves, our time, and our possessions ahead of friends, families, and even the ones that we don't yet know.
“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of his elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
“‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom,’” Matthew 16: 21-27
While we are getting better in our advances in technology, even the most skilled meteorologist still cannot predict the exact conditions of the weather in the coming week; however, most meteorologists can give close estimates of what might happen. We could predict how strong hurricane Katrina was just by a simple category number, but no one could predict how much damage Katrina would do to an entire city.
New Orleans was a city that was not prepared for what was to come from hurricane Katrina. When the damage had been done, more than half of the city was underwater.
Now in order to help the rebuilding process, we have to pay more taxes to help out. Seems reasonable to me because frankly, I would like to do as much as I can to help the city get back on its feet again, but to some people, rebuilding New Orleans just can’t be done, and to others, it shouldn't be done.
I was listening to a conversation in one of my classes about the hurricane, and one girl said that paying more taxes to help rebuild a city that “isn't our own” and “wasn't prepared for what happened” was “outrageous.” She claimed that it is the fault of New Orleans for what happened and that they should have been better prepared. She also mentioned that New Orleans should have to pay the taxes to rebuild their own city.
I don’t know what surprised me more; this girl’s comments, or the fact that the majority of my class seemed to agree with her.
The thing is that is doesn't matter who’s fault it is for what happened to New Orleans, nor the fact that New Orleans is not anywhere near my small college town in central Pennsylvania. Saying that that New Orleans should have to pay more taxes to help rebuild their own city, and not receive help from the rest of the nation because it is their own fault for what happened to them, is like telling a blind man that he can’t have a seeing eye dog to help him get out and around because it’s his own fault for being born blind.
We live in a society today were most people seem to think it’s all about themselves and no one else matters. We live in a bubble, whereas only the people who are inside the bubble with us matter, like our friends and family.
But there is more than just our friends and family inside that bubble. What about our brothers and sisters in Christ that we should always try to help out when they are in trouble? What about the homeless? What about people who are less fortunate than us? Our classmates, people we don’t even know, they are in there too. The world is our bubble, and we need to not only care about the people we do know, but also the people we don’t know.
Jesus called us all to be disciples of Him. Jesus went around healing the sick and taking care of most people that he had no idea who they were. We must take care of others just as Jesus did for our ancestors.
Being selfish is something that we all do at times. No one is perfect, and sometimes we act selfish without even thinking. But it is up to us to take the blame for what we are doing and act upon it. We need to start learning from our habits and mistakes and learn how to change them.
Saying we don’t need to pay taxes to help New Orleans recover from a drastic hurricane is being selfish in my opinion, although others might beg to differ.
Still, if one just stops and thinks about it, if our own city was hit by a hurricane and we were in drastic need of recovery, wouldn't we ask people we didn't know for help just like New Orleans did? Without a doubt we would. And to hear and see people turn away from our pleas for help, doesn't one think that would hurt just a little bit?
If someone was hanging off the side of cliff and was about ready to fall, don’t you think this person would cry for help? To this person it wouldn't matter who helped him or her; the only thing that matters to this person is that they want to be rescued.
What if another person walked by, saw and heard the victim’s cries for help, turned to the person who was about ready to fall to their death and say “what’s in it for me?”
Now, how many of us have honestly said that to someone when asked for help? I would say a great many of us have, and it’s a habit we need to break.
God wants us to care and think about others. We are important yes, but when compared to a person who has much less than we do, wouldn't it make sense to reach out to that person who has less than to ask for more for ourselves?
Jesus may have died on the cross to save us from death from our sins on earth, but that doesn’t mean we can just go around doing whatever we want thinking we will be forgiven. Selfishness is something that we all have, but just imagine how the world would be if we all acted selfish all the time.
We must act in Christ like ways as much as possible every day of our lives. If we do, we can begin to act upon our selfish ways and start to see things in a new perspective. Perhaps maybe we can begin to help others we don’t know and start to grow our bubble to be able to fit the world inside. Sometimes it’s hard, but with God at our side anything is possible, and we must always try to strive for it.