By Luis Quintanilla
At times, a community, and often people in general, are given a stark reminder of their fragility in a highly unpredictable world. On Tuesday night March 3rd, the Nashville and Middle Tennessee community was reminded of this as a F3 tornado swept through parts of downtown Nashville and devastated communities further east such as Cookeville becoming a F4 tornado.
Perhaps the most tragic part of this was it came in the middle of the night, when most people and their families were more than likely in deep sleep, tragically unaware their houses sat in the path of a monster-size tornado hurdling towards them.
As of right now 25 people have been confirmed dead. The blunt of the storm hit Putnam county with 18 dead, 5 of them including children. It is unimaginable to go out in such a way. To be sleeping and the next moment wind speeds of up to 175 are ripping the walls around you and your family members, thrashing you, tossing you and your family members like rag dolls several yards, bombarding you with shards of glass and other debris all in a matter of seconds.
To those reading this from the Nashville or Middle Tennessee area, we are extremely fortunate to have woken up to see daylight that day, 25 people did not.
Despite it’s terrifying and tragic nature, that night fostered true community in Tennesseans and people in surrounding communities. Within hours of daylight, volunteers were busy helping clear streets and rubble, look for buried survivors and even offering shelter and sanctuary for anyone displaced.
Places such as the Farmer’s Market and churches around Middle Tennessee opened their doors to shelter anyone affected by the tornado. Locals offered their own homes and even their own showers for displaced people. Restaurants gave out free food to those affect. Teams of volunteers spanned Putnam county from sunup to sundown searching for survivors under the thrashed homes. Even the hospital in Cookeville, the Regional Medical Center, chose not to bill the people who came in for medical attention after the tornado.
Although the community was severely physically battered, the spirit of the people in Nashville and Middle Tennessee seemingly remained standing strong, if not stronger. For those affected and grieving there will be a long road ahead to recovery and stability, but the past week has shown these people they’re not alone. Their neighbors and strangers alike have pooled together to lend a hand to those shocked with such a unpredictable tragedy.
At its most fundamental level, it is humans extending out their hands to help out their fellow humans when the call arises, maybe one of the greatest acts of humanity one can witness on the planet. At times like these, the white blood cells of humanity quickly rush to combat the ugliness and unpredictability of life and remind those affected that they are part of a community.
A tragic part about this is that it often takes a large scale tragedy for this compassion of humanity to be fully sparked. On a small scale, one may witness or even share this compassion with their fellow neighbor and stranger on a daily basis, but rarely is it seen on a massive scale on a daily basis.
For the most part, most people walk by each other on the street without investing much thought of how that person is doing or their circumstances. This does not make people bad, it is impossible to know the situation of everyone we walk by on the street, we simply do not have the time to know everyone, but this does not mean we can invest some basic care and understanding into one another.
The hand of humanity one sees when tragedy like this arises, shouldn’t just show its face when it is too late, after the fact. Instead, it is possible for it to permeate into everyday life if given enough attention. This is not to say the world will become rainbows and sunshine everyday as all humans hold hands and sing together. People will always have differences and disagree. But the basic human compassion that is exhibited when times like these arise appears to be deep-seated in us. If that is the case, it can appear in our everyday lives if cultivated right and if given enough attention.