In my last post, I ended by talking about prayer. Prayer during a storm. Storms happens frequently in this part of the country (especially this year, in this particular spot.) Since I'm talking about perspectives, I'll let you in on a little secret:
Everybody has one--a perspective, that is.
And it's different, not only from person to person, but also from time to time. An overweight mother of four does not have the same perspective that a skinny, single, college girl has. Does that make one of them wrong? Not necessarily. That makes them different.
The sticky thing you get into with perspectives is when you decide that someone else is wrong because of the perspective they have. Some call it judgement, but I call it not holding your tongue. "Just because you can say something (and it might be truthful), doesn't mean you should say something."
It seems as though everyone and their grandmother have an opinion about these storms, about the storm chasers, about those who lost everything, about the teachers who prayed. No problem. Does everyone need to share those opinions with the ones who just went through this horrible tragedy? Not so much.
I'm going to give a little rebuttal to some of the things I've heard in the last couple of weeks.
(Disclaimer: I am writing this from my perspective....on the fringe. I haven't lost everything. I didn't lose a loved one. This time, I didn't even have any damage. But my friends did, and these are some things I learned by listening--not talking--to them.)
For the teacher who prayed: Good for you! Not because you went "against the rules about prayer in schools", but because you protected those kids to the best of your ability. You didn't force your students to pray (as if there was time for that!), and you didn't lose your job because of it (contrary to the unbelievable Internet rumor spreading wildly.)
For those who would protest at a child's funeral: I won't mention you by name because that would just give you the publicity you desire (even though there's only 3 people who read this blog.) What you are doing does not accomplish anything. You are not what you say you are, and you turn others toward your hate by inciting them to anger. I wish I could say that I would be the one to give a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, but I'm afraid that I would only accomplish your purpose, not God's, if I ever meet any of you. All I can do is pray for you--that you don't turn anyone else to hate with your religion.
For those who criticize people who live here: You've obviously never weathered a storm of any kind. While these storms are the most brutal thing nature can bring, they also bring something amazing--the helpers.
For those who come to sightsee: Go home! If you are here to help cleanup, thank you, but please put your cameras away. If someone wants to take pictures of their destroyed home so they have a memorial of what they survived, they have that right. And, while you have the right to take pictures of their stuff, it is incredibly tacky to film their loss for your pleasure. I know the devastation is incredible, and it is hard to turn your eyes away when it stretches as far as you can see. Please don't take for granted, though, that this is someone else's home turned inside out. If you wouldn't normally see it driving down the street, don't take pictures of it laying out in their neighbor's yard.
For those who criticize the weatherman: Storms like this cover miles and miles. They damage or destroy thousands and thousands of homes, businesses, and sometimes schools. Every single life lost is a tragic thing, but if you look at the storm's path, it is truly unbelievable that there weren't more lives lost. Truly. Had it not been for the scientists, the weather reporters, and the storm chasers that number could have been so much higher. And, while I know the feeling I get in my gut when there's going to be a bad storm, and I know the look of the sky when the clouds get black and start to swirl; there is no way I could warn others on where to go, how bad it might be, or what direction it's heading. That's why I listen to someone else with a more experienced perspective.
For those who want to introduce immediate legislation to get everyone a shelter less than 24 hours after a storm (and this is where I'm probably going to make people mad): It's not the government's job to get everyone a shelter. When you live in this part of the country, you have to make choices based on what is important to you. Do storms like this happen every week, every month, or every year? No. These storms are rare, but they do incredible damage. From my perspective, this is another opportunity for neighbor to help neighbor. If you have shelter, let someone else in. It's as simple as that. You have to decide if a shelter is worth the money you'll have to spend. What is a life worth? What is it worth if this only happens once every 10-15 years?
As far as the schools, those teachers are not to blame. Neither are the administrators. Nor the school board, builders, etc. We learn from history. Unfortunately, we learn when we lose lives. These storms don't happen every day. We also knew from the time we woke up that these storms were going to be bad. While you can't keep your children home every time there's a risk, there are times you get to be the parent and override any other deadline you may have. Some parents kept their kids home, some picked theirs up early, and some left their children there. None are wrong. Not even the ones who are now grieving. They did the best they could, and they don't need our criticism or our suggestions right now. They need our friendship and our love. We'll learn from this, and maybe we'll make different decisions, but now is not the time.
Wow! This turned into a long post. I'm guessing you probably get where I'm going with this. During times like these, it's easy to have all the answers--especially when you're sitting hundreds of miles away. This isn't the first time this has happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last. We don't need answers right now. We need helpers, love, and a little time to make sure we keep things in the right perspective.