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Column: Harvey Is Showing the Best And Worst of America. Luckily, It’s Mostly Good

I don’t even remember the guy’s name. I stood on his porch with my mission companion, talking about life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Suddenly, a bright light and deafening thunder sent us all scrambling. The lightning strike had hit the steeple of the Baptist church directly across the street from us, and the rain was now so heavy we could barely make out the shape of our white car less than a block away. This guy, without regard for his personal safety and shrugging off the potential public shame of being seen with two Mormon missionaries, grabbed his keys, brought his car right up to the porch, and drove us to our car so we could get to our home safely.

We made it home and rode out this insane rain storm, which ended just a few hours later. This was Beeville, Texas, just an hour northwest of Corpus Christi, and three hours south of Houston. The rain that day flooded multiple streets, and allowed me to see just one example of the kindness of the people of South Texas.

If just a few hours of rain like that was able to flood multiple streets, I can’t fathom what several weeks could do. Houston has been on the minds and in the prayers of millions of us as people literally wade through the devastation that was once their homes, and as thousands of volunteers roll up to show us what being an American is really about.

Disasters and major events like Harvey press our society and allow us to see how sweet or bitter our fruits really are. J.J. Watt has now raised nearly $20 million for disaster victims. Verizon Wireless has announced that they will waive all data overage fees or similar charges for those in the affected areas. People like Sandra Bullock have pledged literally millions of dollars of their own money to help out. Groups like the Cajun Navy have rallied together with their own supplies, boats, and manpower to provide relief to the beyond exhausted forces in Houston.

Others have used the situation for their own gain. The Texas Rangers refused to swap home series with the Houston Astros, instead insisting on having both series in Dallas, eventually forcing the teams to play one series in Florida instead of Houston. Political journalists have nitpicked what the First Lady was wearing on her way to the flood victims, and others dissect the President’s words on flood victims, aiming for criticism. And I thought alligators and water moccasins were the biggest nuisance in these flood waters.

This situation is beyond politics, profit, or personal gain. If you don’t get that, you don’t deserve either of the last two.

This is a sports column. Ask any sports writer and they’ll openly tell you that sports aren’t all life and death. Sure, it forms a major part of American culture. Of course it captures the interest of millions of Americans and frustrates a good amount of spouses, but these million-dollar shortstops and titans of apparent frivolity can and often do a heck of a job helping their communities (sit down, Ray Rice), and making their cities better places to live. In between our snarky comments about Ed Orgeron’s accent or anything about the Cleveland Browns, hopefully we can show you just how much good the sports world does.

Those select few whose greed and political spite have proven more resilient than their compassion and humanity show our society has some work to do, but the Cajun Navies and nameless guys with sopping wet Mormons in their car and J.J. Watts of the world show us who we really are as a country.

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