Town’s relief efforts should be applauded

Clyde Davis: Local Columnist

What do a media professional, a hospital counselor, a fire dept. employee, and a law enforcement officer have in common? The first two I have the privilege to regard as my friends; the last two I haven’t known very long, or met only briefly.

What is obvious is that they all are caring and dedicated persons. Also, they all have the ability to mobilize our energetic and willing volunteers towards the incredible task of responding to natural disaster.

This ability reminds us of the indomitable spirit this date should always call up in our minds.

It is Sept. 11th once again.

Although the original impact of that date has become more of a rallying cry, we have been reminded once again — by natural disaster this time — that the people of this nation do not view themselves as isolated units or geographic entities; those in New York or New Orleans share a common bond with us.

There are always people who respond negatively, or fail to respond, to this kind of challenge.

Armchair theologians, let’s get one thing clear: The hurricane was not God’s judgment on New Orleans. The terrorists were not God’s judgment on New York. Cities can be included in Jesus’ phrase “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” God does not wreak punishment on little children and frail senior adults such as those I saw on television.

Just after Sept. 11, 2001, when we were driving back cross-country from Pennsylvania, I was touched by scenes that are burned in my mind’s eye.

Employees of a mall in Indiana gathered outside at lunchtime, heads bowed in prayer; flags on display in windows across the nation; Oklahoma City at dusk, a metropolis which, not so long before, had dealt with its own kind of terror. Similar scenes have played in response to tragic events of the past two weeks.

What are the lessons of Sept. 11? What have we learned from Hurricane Katrina?

First, that we are neither invincible nor impregnable; to believe so breeds a false sense of security. We are, however, strong, resourceful and resilient.

Second, that we are not a nation where everyone cares; some people fail to see beyond their own needs.

However, we are a nation where most people care; it is in our fiber to run to the aid of others.

Third, that we are not a nation of followers and should never become one. When we wait around for leaders — elected or otherwise — to make the first move, we may be wasting precious time. We learn that we better start moving, develop a plan, and alter it as we go.

Fourth, we are not a nation that forgets, nor should we. The date of Sept. 11 ought to be burned into our minds so that we understand our true blessings.

It is the power of the American spirit that gives us national unity and cohesion.

We honor that spirit today, as we applaud the contributions of this town to the hurricane relief efforts.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at:
clyde_davis@yahoo.com