During and after Isaac, a comment someone had put on the Weather Channel's Facebook page was all over my newsfeed. The people of New Orleans were angered, deeply hurt, and frustrated by what one woman said. I can't remember the exact wording but she - rather void of tact - spoke about how stupid the people of the Gulf Coast (especially New Orleans) must be to live in a place that suffers hurricanes and exists below sea-level. She used harsh language, horrible wording, and nothing that she said offered a solution. Nothing that she stated held a purpose except to rant and call out someone else for something she couldn't understand.
How quick we are to pass judgment and condemn. How quickly we rip apart something we have no understanding of. How quick we are to give an opinion that holds no value, no purpose, no empathy.
She spoke about how whiny the citizens of my city are. How give-me-give-me-give-me we are with every hurricane.
I love my city. I love my city for its uniqueness and strength and independence. I love my city for its acceptance of every walk of life, its character, its tenacity, its determination, its will to move forward, to celebrate making it through, to celebrate rising above, to celebrate life. I love my city for how proud it is, too proud to accept help without it being forced down its throat. I love my city because after it swallows that pride, it shows its gratitude, it gives back, it thanks those who came to its rescue. I love my city because it is a place that somehow has the ability to love deeply, to make those who visit it feel deeply, for those who live in it, to live by it, and for those who leave it, to carry it with them always.
New Orleans stays inside you. To leave it for a time, leaves a longing; to even think of leaving it forever, breaks the spirit.
So much of what she said, her hatred for something she couldn't understand, her need to say it in a public forum just because she could, because she "had the floor" ...
How many times have Military Spouses heard strangers say or seen people post:
Well why did you marry a soldier in the first place?
I am so tired of hearing about this war.
I am so tired of hearing about giving military families this, and giving military families that.
Why do they even get married?
Why do they have kids?
How dare they bring children into that lifestyle!
They are so give-me-give-me-give-me.
Why even be there when he gets home? He's a murderer! Their kids aren't safe.
Soldiers shouldn't be able to pro-create. It's not fair to the child.
(Not kidding. I have heard it.)
Every word one of hatred. Every word one of ignorance. Every word gut-wrenching, soul-sucking, anger-filling.
How often do we as people pass judgment and express it just because we can. How often do we spew hatred because we "have a right!".
How often do we inflict pain just because we want our say, our two-cents? Because our voice needs to be heard. It will be heard!
How much greater would this place be if we had more empathy. If we thought before we spoke, or typed, or tweeted. How much kinder would we be to one another if we took the time to try to feel what others feel and if we can't to not claim that we know better, that they must be wrong because we cannot understand.
If you cannot understand why people rebuild, you don't have to. If you can't understand why military families exist, what it means to live this life, you don't have to.
There are times when to not speak, does not make you weak. To hold your tongue does not mean you have no voice. If we could just feel for one another, respect one another ... it is not our place to condemn.
Words are powerful.
No one can walk a mile in each person's shoes. No one can know how each soul lives. No one can feel what we feel, live through what we live through, but we can all accept that we cannot know. That we cannot know each person's struggles and reasons. We can choose to love first, to empathize first, to respect always.
How quick we are to speak. How quick we are to condemn. How quick we are to show our ignorance.
How quick we should be to try to understand.