This last week I have been glued to Aljazeera watching the situation in Cairo unfold. It’s an extraordinary story and I have been struck by what people on the street and on Tahrir Square keep saying; they are no longer scared. They have overcome thirty years of collective fear and are now speaking out. No doubt the story is far more complicated than I could ever comprehend, but that’s one of the things that has appealed to me. And then there was a beautiful picture that I saw of Christians holding hands and protecting Muslims as they prayed on the square. It was a moment that defined the solidarity people were feeling, across the traditional divides of religion, class, education, and all differences.
In between the Egypt crisis I caught glimpses of the tornado and the havoc it caused the already flood damaged Queensland in Australia. Here I was struck by something quite different. Yes, people had been truly terrified while the tornado tore through their homes, streets and suburbs, but the next morning they were all out there, in shorts and pajamas, chopping, sawing, dragging and clearing up. They had experienced a nightmare and had every excuse to be shell shocked and immobile, but they weren’t. They were totally pro-active, practical and busy. I was impressed.
Then, I was on skype with my friend in Australia and she had just got back to a wet but not flooded part of the country after being away for six weeks. She had been worried about her stuff while she was away, but when she got back she saw that a neighbour (possibly, she isn’t sure who) had moved and hoisted stuff in the garage, and protected other stuff that was outside. I couldn’t believe my ears. Imagine going away for six weeks in South Africa and leaving your garage unlocked? Imagine leaving stuff outside? She told me about parts of the country where people had been evacuated from their homes during the floods, only to return and find strangers cleaning and helping and doing damage control. Can you imagine strangers doing that kind of thing for you? It makes it so much easier to deal with, I am sure.
I am inspired by people who take the moment to do good.