Tragedy helps disregard our differences

Wow, September has come and gone already.

There is an old adage that talks about the weather in March: in like a lion, out like a lamb. I submit that this could also apply to September 2017. By way of example, in 1983 — before, the Internet, iPads, iPhones and instant news gratification — I started logging the daily temperatures for the Hancock County area.

The World Wide Web was invented circa 1990. Did you know that Sept. 11, 2001, the temperature in New Palestine, Indiana, was a pleasant 67 degrees? At the World Trade Center, the weather was similar in scope. It was close to 70 degrees.

Most all of New York’s citizens were busily going about their normal daily routine. Little did they know their entire lives, along with the rest of the free world, would be changed forever.

More recently, we have seen Almighty God’s hand in Houston, Texas, via Hurricane Harvey. Certainly, we all witnessed the destruction in the Caribbean and Florida due to Hurricane Irma. The people of these regions likewise had their lives changed. What do these cataclysmic events have to do with neighbors? Who is our neighbor?

In Luke 10:25-37, a rich young ruler asked our Lord this very question: “Who is my neighbor?”

Christ said: “Love our neighbor as yourself.”

The Lord then went on to give us the parable of the Good Samaritan. I submit to you that in this day of the World Wide Web, our neighbor could be the person across the street. It could be the person eating at the local fast food place. It could be that person you probably have not met yet.

Through catastrophes, your life is changed — perhaps forever — usually in a significant way. The ironic thing is that when you talk to first-responders, or any of the 200-plus members of Indiana’s Task Force One, they do not consider themselves heroes. They were simply giving their time, money and effort to help a neighbor.

It is simply amazing that when a catastrophic event strikes us, then we all become Americans without regard to race, color or ethnic origin.

Last week, I witnessed an extraordinary act of kindness. As I was pulling into a parking spot, I could not help but to see the event unfolding. An elderly handicapped gentleman was struggling to get into his truck. Coincidentally, a lady was leaving the parking lot. She was well on her way to turning west onto U.S. 52.

She also witnessed the struggle. She stopped her vehicle, put on her four-way flashers and proceeded to help the gentleman. I did talk to both parties after the fact. Neither one knew each other.

In regard to the catastrophic hurricanes, I am sure that many in the Hancock County area have ties to friends or relatives in Texas, Florida or the Caribbean. I know my family does.

For example, we have a dear friend that lives in Puerto Rico. Her village was facing a direct hit from Irma, a category 5 hurricane. Through social media, she sent out an urgent prayer request. I could not physically go to Puerto Rico, but I could pray. Her village was spared a direct hit.

The news of Charlottesville and the rest of the mayhem and chaos suddenly became unimportant. Neighbor helping neighbor became paramount.

In summation, two songs come to mind. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Now, go out there and be a neighbor to someone that needs it.

C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher, Sugar Creek Township trustee and co-director of the Hancock County Character Council. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield