While we lived overseas, the news from America that percolated to the surface seemed only to represent the worst elements of our country. Admittedly, we happened to move overseas before a Presidential election (not our plan – just the way it worked out), and no Presidential election is a clean “fight”. That said, our Spanish friends would ask us “what is happening in America?” They would see election clips taken out of context (and sometimes not!), racial riots, murders, mass shootings and the occasional nut job using a car a weapon of attempted mass destruction. As much as we would tell our native Iberian friends: “you’re only seeing the ugliest parts – that’s not the America I know.” Of course, it’s hard to convince those that haven’t lived in America and even more difficult in the age of just-in-time reporting where everyone with a cell phone is an amateur reporter. At the same time, I’ll admit, unless you really search for it, the American news you hear overseas can be disturbing – it can make you have second doubts – it can make you start thinking: “Have we lost our way?”
We returned to our home the same day Barcelona suffered a terrorist attack just a couple of miles from where we lived. The men who carried out the cowardly crime committed on the same street my eldest son would ride his bike to and from his sports practice. All we could glean from the news was the devastation these young thugs caused and how other attacks “might” be forthcoming. Yet, when you speak to friends, they would respond with: “they (terrorists) will NEVER change our way life – we are not afraid!”…and that’s the Barcelona attitude I know and love.
Now, 10 days after that tragedy, Hurricane Harvey hits Houston and hits harder than any expert predicted. The devastation that Texans are grappling with is so incredible it’s hard to comprehend. But then again, as powerful as this storm has been, America’s resolve is stronger. Watching first responders – fire, police, search and rescue, National Guard and government agencies working together, is what we all would hope to see happen – it’s the way it should happen. The best part, however, is watching the rest of America respond. The news agencies have it wrong – it’s not “strangers helping strangers” – it’s Americans helping Americans…and that’s the America I know and love.
This Labor Day weekend, over 100,000 American families are going to be doing a whole bunch of hard labor as the waters recede and it isn’t going to end after a weekend. Yes, Harvey put a hurt on a lot of people and it’s going to hurt for a while, but this is America, and this is what we do best: a country of people that will come together in the time of need, rebuild and do it even better than before.
One storm or 100 won’t weaken American resolve. Even though I don’t live in Texas, I don’t feel like they are strangers to me – those are fellow Americans and they need our help. If you haven’t already donated your time, blood or money to one of the various charities seeking American support, please do, and know a small donation can go a long way – here’s a simple one: Walmart just announced this morning it will match your donation by 2x – see Walmart.com or the Red Cross.
As you start your Labor Day weekend, take a moment to help out some fellow Americans.
This IS America – we’ve got your back Texas,
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.