A friend told me of their ordeal about being stranded for 24 hours on I-12 between Walker and Livingston. During this entire time, their only assistance from anyone beyond their group of trapped motorists was the delivery, via helicopter, of water and diapers. His story was amazing and heartwarming. Everyone shared what they had. Some shared their cell phones, some their cell phone chargers. Some shared food, some shared the means to cook food. Everyone shared with everyone else. No one thought to consider race, age, gender, religion, or any other category before giving generously what they had. They gave to each other, to anyone in need.
Another friend told me how he had been traveling up I-55 and was stranded near the small town of Albany, also for about 24 hours. He ended up parked near a church with many others. Evidently the church had the only available restroom for miles around. It turned out that the church had a small kitchen. Some of the stranded travelers had food with them and soon gumbo and jambalaya preparation was underway. Over 300 people were fed from that small kitchen. The thing that struck me is that there was no mention of anyone’s race, gender, religion, or age. Strangers, basic folks, just ordinary kind people shared with everyone, anyone in need.
I have lived in South Louisiana all of my life. For decades I have seen LSU fans taunt opposing fans with yells of “Tiger Bait” and then invite them to share gumbo, pastalaya, fried catfish, pork tenderloin and all the myriad delicious foods and beverages consumed at tailgate parties in Baton Rouge. The untold story of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the thousands of rescues made across the state by hunters and fishermen going out in their boats to help others. The stories of sacrifice, sharing, and generosity in South Louisiana—frequently including food and a party—are endless.
Many times over the past few years, when I have read the paper or watched the news, I have seen something that made me shake my head and say, “Americans have lost their minds.” The media focuses on bathroom wars, racial strife, shootings by and of law enforcement officers, and other glaring issues that make you shudder and wonder how our country survives, or will survive. And then I see with my own eyes the generosity of people of all ages, races, genders, and religions helping others of any “category,” simply because the other has a need that they can fulfill. I hear first-hand stories of rescues of people and dogs, cats, goats, and even chickens. I see the children next door and hear more at work of youngsters working hard all day at the devastated home of a friend of a friend, and then going out for food together that night to relax before working again all day the next day. And my faith in America has been restored. Thank you citizens of America and of Louisiana and especially of South Louisiana. I don’t know if God sent us the floods, but I do know that He sent us each other to help out in our time of need.