From the Editor: American Spirit

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

In this weekís paper, there are multiple articles about the way Eurekans are trying to help the people in Texas who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. ECHO Thrift Store is sending a semi-truck packed full of donations on Friday, the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a diaper drive and another group is gathering miscellaneous donations.

Of course, these actions arenít specific to Eureka Springs. Americans from all over the country have been donating to hurricane relief, and some have even gone to Texas themselves to rescue families and their pets from the rising water. Seeing so much kindness in our country is overwhelming.

I saw it in person on Tuesday morning, standing in the ECHO meeting room surrounded by packs of Pampers and disposable razors and pillows. Thatís barely scratching the surface of everything that has been donated to ECHO over the past week. When you have so many donations, you need volunteers. ECHO wasnít at a loss for that, either. I spoke with one of the volunteers while she was placing pillows inside pillowcases and zipping them up. During our conversation, I learned she had been affected by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. She said she wanted to give back, because so many gave to her when she needed it the most.

I suspect she would have volunteered even if she had never experienced a natural disaster. Thatís just what happens when something like this affects our fellow citizens so strongly. When so many Americans are helpless, itís up to the rest of us to step in and lift them up. Our government can fire on all cylinders, and it still wonít matter if everybody else doesnít lend a helping hand.

Over the past week, Iíve read stories describing rescue missions and other initiatives to help those stranded in their homes with no place to go. Some have taken a boat into the middle of the flooding and plucked men, women and children from their homes to safety. Those who donít have boats havenít been shy about borrowing one. This isnít a time where you do the bare minimum to help. Itís when you do everything you can, and then you try to do a little more.

That said, any kind of help means something to those who need it. You can donate one bottle of shampoo or a pack of underwear, and that helps somebody. We canít all drive into Texas on a boat and rescue families, but we can donate one or two needed items to a local donation drive. We can send messages of love and hope to the people who have lost everything. We can do our best, and thatís more than enough.

When we all give our best, the results are overwhelming. I imagine it feels a lot like standing in that room at ECHO Thrift Store, with volunteers of all ages sorting through hundreds of donations in the most determined way I have ever seen. Like most Americans, those volunteers had a mission to help those in need, and they werenít going to stop until they were done.

I read a comment on social media earlier this week saying this is what America really is. Itís not the polarizing politics or violent rallies, the comment said. Itís all of us coming together when our fellow Americans need our help. I wish I could agree with that, but our country isnít that cut and dry. We have wonderful moments like this, where we all unite for the greater good. And then there are less good moments, the kind we donít even want to talk about.

Right now, America is at its very best. Americans are at their very best. Weíre helping people we donít know just because they need it. My fervent hope is that this kind of American spirit continues once the hurricane relief is over. I hope we can keep practicing the same empathy and kindness weíve seen over the past couple of weeks.

If we try to be our very best all the time, America will be better for it.