February 4, 2014

Southern US Hit With Storm of Kindness and Humor

It was a disaster, all right: thousands of vehicles stranded; major highways closed; entire cities shut down in eerie silence. Reminds you of the Congress, doesn’t it? The conjunction of a major ice storm in the South and the President’s State of the Union speech is nothing but mere coincidence, but still, you might want to think about it. In the one case, the paralysis is due to an unexpected swerve in the weather, and it will be temporary. In the other, well, you know the story. Oh, yeah, and the response to the natural disaster involved many examples of people helping one another.

I freaking love his photo. The dude is walking down Interstate 285 in Dunwoody, Georgia to hand out snacks and water to stranded motorists. Probably is a hedge fund manager, don’t ya think?

Just imagine, he’s gone out and gotten the stuff, loaded up his bags, and is trucking along the icy road to help complete strangers who he probably will never see again. Nor is he a special case, as Rebecca Solnit documented in her study of A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster. But he doesn’t have to be unique to be admirable. His small act of kindness is what makes the difference between a harsh society and a decent one.

But kindness is not the only thing that is needed. We also need art, and play, and those little moments of playful doodling that are the difference between taking yourself too seriously and enjoying life.

Amidst all the anxiety, frustration, and fault-finding that naturally accompanies any disruption in our lives, someone in Mobile, Alabama had a better idea. Again, the small scale is important. No one here is changing the world.

They only are making it a better place.

— Robert Hariman

(cross-posted from No Caption Needed.)

Photographs by Branden Camp/AP and Lyle Ratliff/Reuters.

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Robert Hariman
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