Staff Editorial 9/22 Harvey, Irma prove disaster to be only unifying force for divided nation

Throughout our nation’s history, we have drawn battle lines over political, social and economic wars. And while our differences always seem to resolve themselves with time, it is not until disaster strikes that we truly unite as a nation.

In 1941, we turned against each other, for we saw our diversity, the fabric of our nation, as a hinderance rather than a value. In 2000, we were once again divided, this time among party lines, for after a controversial election season, we distrusted our president and our electoral system.  It is 2017, and we are still divided no matter how modern the platform we tear each other down on is.

And then, disaster hits.

Suddenly, our bleeding nation patches itself, ignoring our superficial wounds and turning our attention to the more life-threatening injuries. In 1941, it was the 2,335 casualties suffered from the bombings at Pearl Harbor. In 2001, it was the 2,977 lives lost on 9/11. Today, the nation is once again bandaging itself in preparation to take on the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma which are projected to cost the nation $150 billion in reparation costs.

After years of mild hurricane seasons, a two week period of destruction left our great nation wounded physically, emotionally, and financially. In Houston and surrounding Harris County, more than 30,000 people were forced to relocate to shelters, unable to move out from the path of Harvey. In the Florida Keys and Miami, mandated evacuations left highways flooded with terrified citizens, knowing that when they got back, their life prior to the hurricane would be nothing more than a nice memory.

So, we unite.

Regardless of how deep the divide, or how serious the issue, we never fail to rally together after disaster strikes in order to help our countrymen in need. The problem, however, is just that: we never fail to rally together after disaster strikes, after families have been wrecked, after the damage has been done, but we do not even make an effort beforehand. Unless a category four hurricane sweeps across the nation, unless bombs are dropped on our military bases, unless terrorist groups leave us screaming in pain and running for our lives, we could not care less. We do not make an effort to resolve our problems because we have accepted the idea that we will always be a divided nation, that that is just how society works. But this is not true, for every time disaster strikes, we see that we are more than capable of setting aside of differences.

Instead of condescending language and acts of violence, we turn to prayerful messages and nationwide fundraisers.

While the recent surge of patriotism and unity has been welcomed, it comes at the cost of American suffrage. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that we, as a nation, have not learned to work through our differences without a horrific disaster forcing us to.

While it will take much time, eventually, Houston and the Keys and Miami will recover. When that happens, we can either find a unifying force within our nation or we can let our differences continue to divide us. The decision to choose the latter is a decision to continue along the cycle we are on now, to continue to let disaster strike.