As of Tuesday, the waters continue to rise in the state of Texas. As Hurricane Harvey continues to wreak havoc, thousands of people have been left stranded. Left to abandon their homes and try to seek shelter wherever they can, frequently with little success. These people are struggling to survive on a level few of us can fathom right now, as we sit in our dry living rooms surrounded by our own precious things. These people need help simply because they are human beings; they don't have to earn it. Sadly, there are people refusing to help Harvey victims for the most ridiculous reason. Because some of them voted for President Trump.
Slate.com recently published a letter written to its advice columnist, Dear Prudence (whose real name is Mallory Oertberg). The letter writer, who hails from the Houston area, was concerned about her girlfriend's close-mindedness:
I come from the Houston area and have been heartbroken about the damage and scenes from Harvey. I decided to donate $250 and asked my girlfriend if she would match it. She agreed, and then when I asked if she had given to the Red Cross or someone else, I learned that she donated to the Humane Society. I know she’s absolutely nuts about animals, especially our own dogs, but to give to animals when people are in trouble seems heartless to me. She’s much more politically active than I am, and I finally asked if she did that to avoid the possibility of giving money to someone who voted for Trump, and she admitted that was one of the reasons. I think that’s awful, and we’ve been fighting about it ever since. She thinks as a gay woman I should see her side, but I just can’t. There are good people everywhere, and she went out of her way to avoid helping.
Here's the thing; there is no politicizing tragedy. Nobody should be expected to earn a little help from their fellow humans by virtue of having the same political background, the same opinions, or the same heritage. As terrible as it is to hear news of undocumented immigrants too frightened to ask for help during the hurricane for fear of deportation (as reported by Buzzfeed), it is equally unconscionable to refuse help because someone may have voted for a president you don't support.
When relief aid organizations step in to help victims of tragedies, they do not ask to see a person's credentials. They don't care if someone was a good neighbor, a perfect mother, a supportive friend.
They help because, as Dear Prudence put it, “'As a society, we should help victims of natural disasters' is a complete sentence that does not require additional clauses, addenda, or stipulations."
They help because that is what we are meant to do.
To date, at least 19 people have died as a result of Hurricane Harvey, and many more injured. The storm is set to rage through Louisiana, affecting hundreds of miles of coastline. Texas Gov. Greg Abbot has called this storm "one of the largest natural disasters America has ever faced," according to The New York Times.
Choosing not to help those affected is simply not a choice.