By Jim Owen
It’s already been one of the worst winters in years, and a
new line of storms is slamming much of the country with heavy snow, punishing
winds, and sheets of ice. The weather has been so severe that many areas have
declared states of emergency.
But, dangerous and difficult as this extreme weather can be,
it has had an upside, too. As history has shown us many times, there is nothing
like adversity to bring us together. Billy Graham was absolutely right when he
said, “Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as
As exhibit A, I would point to recent news coverage from Atlanta, a city so unaccustomed to snow that a late January storm
virtually paralyzed the city and left thousands stranded on the roadways. So
what did people do? They trekked to the nearest interstate with sleds loaded
with sandwiches and drinks. They set up hot chocolate stands at off-ramps.
Aided by Facebook and Twitter, some with four-wheel-drive vehicles provided
on-call taxi services. Others opened their homes, offering shelter to marooned
commuters. It’s enough to make you believe in the goodness of humanity.
It does seem that in times of serious travail, it becomes
easier for us to look past our differences. We can see others simply as people
who are trying to get by, just like we are. We finally understand, on a gut
level rather than as an abstract concept, that we really are all One.
This isn’t just a philosophical or spiritual belief.
Scientists tell us that the atoms we breathe today could be the same ones
breathed by Julius Caesar or Joan of Arc. That reminds us that we and all our
forebears literally have been passengers on the same planet. What’s more,
genealologists are now able to link 75 million people as members of the same
extended family tree, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Couple that kind of ongoing research with our rapidly advancing capabilities
for DNA analysis, and we may someday be able to show how every human on the
planet is related.
The next time I come across a stranger in need, that’s what
I’ll be thinking about. That, and the image of a hot chocolate stand next to a