I wrote recently about an often overlooked aspect of living in a world filled with challenges, hardship, pain, suffering and even death. What I discovered first hand during my wife’s brush with death and subsequent recovery at the hospital is that difficult circumstances make it possible for us to become heroes. I was stunned by the heroism of so many people as they gave all they had to restore my wife’s health.
But that lead me to the startling realization that if we lived in what some people consider the “perfect world” (a world filled with nothing but effortless bliss and absolutely no hint of difficulty of any kind) then there would be no heroes. Heroism is the potential of every human, but only in a world of hardship – a world much like ours – can such heroism possibly find its fulfillment.
That reality, the connection between difficulty and the fulfillment of human virtue, does not make those difficult circumstances any easier, nor does it make them good, but it does make them meaningful.
In the midst of writing a series of articles exploring this reality, Calgary and surrounding area (all the way upstream to mountain communities!) were hit with a flood. A major flood. Roughly one hundred thousand people had to be evacuated. Some homes were completely lost. Others will require major overhauls. Four people (per the latest news reports) lost their lives.
But my, oh my, did heroism rise to this occasion!
It would not be possible to capture all the stories of heroism, but here are a few that I heard of. Some are now a matter of public record (links below) and others were just passed on down the line from friend to friend.
This is the story of how one lady died rescuing her friend. What a noble way to start the list. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down [her] life for [her] friends.” (Joh 15:13 ESV)
During one media briefing the mayor praised police, firemen and others who were on the 20th hour of their shift and still maintaining their professionalism as they dealt with a scared public.
The church I attend hosted several dozen folks from a local ministry that helps people get off the street and re-establish themselves. We needed food and volunteers. We were swamped with both; too much to handle! Plenty of other churches and organizations helped, in a wide variety of ways.
Countless homes were opened, or at least offered. Kijiji was packed with “home for flood victim” types of ads in the days that followed.
Thousands of homes had flooded basements. There was a story going around Facebook of a guy with a hydrovac truck (he works in the oil & gas sector) who was driving around and sucking the water out of people’s basements in about 20 minutes. For free! It would have taken hours / days with a rented pump.
The call went out to the citizens of our city to help with post-flood volunteering. Far too many volunteers showed up; the vast majority had to be turned away. They needed hundreds, they got thousands.
If ever a group of people rose to the occasion, it was Calgarians in the aftermath of the 2013 flood. The flood itself was epic, and the human response to tragedy matched the scale of the flood. We were given an opportunity; we seized it! Many heroes were born, and many others revealed.