I'm a optimistically cynical person--always have been. And because I neither believe in the inherent goodness or badness of humanity, I am constantly not surprised when people prove to be either. This being said, score some points for the optimistic team, as people during the worst of the flooding, proved how helpful they can be to those in need.
I observed hundreds of people sandbagging, clearing basements, manning shelters (for both humans and animals), providing housing, bringing food, comforting and so much more.
What I re-learned is that most people want to be helpful, but need to know what they can do or where they can go to lend a hand.
I spoke to Congressman Loebsack's man-about-district, David Leshtz and he spoke about how Congressman Loebsack and Governor Culver were treated in Columbus Junction by people who need assistance--how glad those in need were to see help on the way.
It is helpful to be reminded sometimes that people in power, just like the rest of us, are looking for the best way to be of service. And, cynicism be damned for a moment, it is not just about votes in future elections--it is about why they were called to public service in the first place.
The other lesson is that we all want to do something heroic. To do something for someone else without thought or consequence to ourselves. Whether it is saving books from floodwaters or sandbagging in a lightening storm, people are capable of acting together and therefore, heroically.
It is true that some people are better at it than others--the National Guard, Sheriff's Department, Fire Departments are often in the position of doing what most of us would not choose to do. But, in a dire emergency, each one of us can put on our tights and cape and jump into the fray.
It is a matter of time that people will return to their narcissistic natures, but not now--there is too much is needed and we are here to help.