Paradise in hell

In times of Harvey, as with many disasters, authorities tend to anticipate looting, violence, and a breakdown of social bonds. What they more often find, though, is a rugged spirit of solidarity. Jonathan M. Katz wrote:

When violence does occur after a disaster, it is often a result of authorities or elites overreacting, fixating on protecting property instead of lives, misunderstanding situations they encounter, or simply getting frustrated that the recovery is happening without them.

However, we all know that there is a long history of the fact that altruism surfaces more than violence in times of crisis. New Yorkers was often reminded of the immediate aftermath of 9/11 as a time of great solidarity. Private cooperations such as Airbnb opens their doors to those in need in times of emergency. Communities in the Nepal earthquake, cut off from the relief efforts by landslides, offered each other a lifeline in the days after the quake. Hurricane Katrina might bring awful rumours about crimes and lootings happening, but the research documents more incidences of kindness, altruism and camaraderie happening after the disaster.

Trymaine Lee also wrote:

But as Trymaine Lee, who was part of the New York Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its Katrina coverage, has written, the violence tended to be on the part of the supposed peacekeeping authorities, not the public.

Cue Rebecca Solnit’s Paradise in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster:

This is a paradise of rising to the occasion that points out by contrast how the rest of the time most of us fall down from the heights of possibility, down into diminished selves and dismal societies. Many now do not even hope for a better society, but they recognize it when they encounter it, and that discovery shines out even through the namelessness of their experience. Others recognize it, grasp it, and make something of it, and long-term social and political transformations, both good and bad, arise from the wreckage.

Also, Brene Brown talks about vulnerability being the core ingredients of social bonding. When you are vulnerable and feel lack of control, admittedly, you might seek the comfort of others in some way, which also means dispersing your kindness in order to be part of the social bond.

If ever you are in a crisis and you feel scared by the news you heard, blame the media for the anxiety. Because there is still hope for humanity in this world.

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