A reblog from JOHN PAVLOVITZ September 7, 2017
I watched it happen over and over in Houston, and it brought me to tears every single time: an imperiled human being sits perched atop a nearly submerged car surrounded by rising, rushing water, as a group of strangers begins to assemble and lock arms—instantly becoming a chain of humanity; one by one extending itself, until finally reaching the terrified driver and passing them toward safety.
I don’t know any of the people linked together in those waters and I know nothing about them individually—but I’m quite sure one thing is true of all of them. I’m fairly certain they didn’t get together on dry ground first to compare theology or to confirm one another’s politics.They didn’t discuss who they each voted for, their respective opinions on immigration, their sexual orientation, or what they thought of Hillary’s emails—in order to determine who they were willing to lock arms with, who merited being a link in that salvation chain alongside them, who could be a rescuer.
And I’m positive they didn’t first examine the stranded driver’s Facebook page or confirm their citizenship status or get their opinion on guns or ask whether they’d acted recklessly to get into the mess they were in—in order to decide whether or not they were worth saving
Those who gathered on the edge of the churning water saw another human being in imminent danger, and without having to say a word to each other decided to do something brave and beautiful and redemptive together—because the life on the end of that chain was worth that. The inherent value of the stranger sitting in that filthy, terrifying river was more than anything they believed or considered about one another that might keep them from moving together.
When we see people clearly in need, obviously in danger as we have this week, we put aside lazy stereotypes, opposing politics, or exterior differences, and we care for them without pausing to examine whether or not we agreed with or even liked them. We become the best version of humanity because we know how valuable life is and we are propelled toward that life when it is endangered.
If only we could realize that people around us are always in need, just less visibly so.
Those we rub shoulders with at work and pass on the street, those who sit near us at restaurants and across from us on our Twitter feed—are assailed in this very moment by crippling grief and catastrophic illness, by financial disaster and marital failures, by depression and loneliness and the nagging fears that they can’t ever shake.
All around us people are close to drowning. They are pressed up hard against their limits. They are barely holding on—and we need to learn to see them and to give a damn and to do something.
We should save people more often. We should find value in life around us, to realize how dire the situation is for so many people, and to figure out how to lock arms with others in order to bring rescue to them.
It doesn’t mean we compromise our convictions or deny our differences or refuse to see injustice. It means we remember that life is inherently worth saving, and that sometimes we can do that saving work with people we don’t agree with—or even like.
Look around you today. There are hurting, struggling, exhausted people everywhere who are living urgently. Respond to them with urgency.
Lives are in great peril today. Find someone to lock arms with, and do something redemptive with this day to save it.