We're not the biggest, strongest, or fastest animals on the planet. No thick hides, fur or scales, fangs or sharp teeth. In fact, we're so tender even tiny biting bugs can be a significant threat. Our instincts are dulled and so are our senses compared to most other animals. Can brains alone make up for all of that, when it took us eons to come up with the tools we credit for our survival today?
What else do we have?
We have what comes out in the wake of unfathomable disaster.
At times when instinct should be screaming for each individual to run, get away, forget everything but the drive to distance oneself from terrible threats, ordinary human beings, vulnerable skin, blunt fingers, dulled senses, and all, go rushing into danger zones to rescue, recover, and restore. As the flood water from hurricane Harvey began rising in Texas, first responders stepped up evacuation of threatened areas. When it became apparent that the scope of the problem was too great for the resources of official responders the call went out to the public, and men with boats joined in the rescue efforts, some traveling from other states, like the Cajun Navy, a group in Baton Rouge that organized after Hurricane Katrina for exactly this type of situation.
And numerous media outlets have highlighted individual rescue stories and the people involved. It has been encouraging to see that heroism recognized, though the people exhibiting it would not have asked or expected that recognition, Even more, it is heartwarming to see people coming together so quickly and effectively in this time of such urgent need.
Men with the capability and knowledge are taking the risk and enduring the roughness of sailing through totally unpredictable areas that present dangers one doesn't generally encounter in a natural river or lake, wading sometimes chest deep in murky water or climbing into and over obstacles to reach those stranded by the flood... not only first responders and trained response groups, but neighbors rescuing neighbors, including one neighborhood where people worked together, forming a human chain, to help a pregnant woman get to a truck that could transport her to safety.
Groups like the Salvation Army and the Red Cross have organized relief efforts. News reports have shown us men and women distributing food, dry clothing, and other emergency supplies gathered from millions of donors. In both cases, rescue efforts and recovery alike, we've seen stories of people working around the clock. As the flood waters poured in, so too have the signs of humanity's greatest strengths.
This is the heart of who we are, and the backbone of civilization, one of the main reasons why we do survive in the face of nature's often savage cruelty - people helping people in the shadow of disaster... men and women working together, organizing to use their individual strengths to accomplish massive rescue and recovery without a thought toward who gets to do what, and how everyone sees it. That is heroism in a nutshell - human beings as a community driven and guided by unadulterated, yet practical, compassion.