The recent hurricane Isaac and last year’s Irene caused me to remember the first such storm that I experienced. It was hurricane Hazel and it came through where I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1955 and brought a lot of damage. The heavy rain and high winds caused the loss of a barn on our farm and the experience was quite frightful.
Recalling that storm and the era of my childhood, I could not help but contrast the time then with how things are now. Back in the mid 20th Century, life was quite different to say the least! I do not recollect hearing much expectation on the part of my elders about the role of government in the wake of the storm.
What I do remember is this – individually assumed responsibility for themselves and their families. We took precautions before the storm arrived and we cleaned up afterwards (which included tearing down that damaged barn). Neighbors pitched in to help other neighbors who had suffered more destruction.
Our Church, and the other churches in the area, responded to meet the needs of the members. The community and Township government immediately went to work to restore school buildings, roads and bridges. In time, the State Government repaired the things that were their responsibility. I do not recall President Eisenhower, who had a farm and home in nearby Gettysburg, PA, dropping in to check on us nor anyone else from the Federal Government.
What a difference fifty years makes! Today when any natural disaster occurs it seems that the FIRST thing that people expect is for the Federal Government to show up with help including funding.
It seems to me that this is one of our problems today. People need to first of all assume personal responsibility for their own lives (Matthew 7:5). Next of course is families, nuclear and extended (1 Timothy 5:4), then churches and worship centers lending aide and assistance (Acts 2:45).
Here is what is needed: families helping families, neighbors assisting neighbors, faith communities putting deeds to their beliefs because “faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). The Scriptures are replete with exhortations and examples of this (see the parable of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:30-37). We need a renewal of these practices and values in our country.