My daughter has a remarkable good friend. Every year she goes to Africa to help the people of an impoverished and war-torn country provide water to a vast majority of its citizens. She returns every year with heartbreaking and heartwarming stories. She and her fellow volunteers are walking examples of “Good Samaritans.” She represents what is truly the “Soul of America.” It’s not about politics or greed. It’s about seeing someone in need and providing it.
Sadly, my daughter’s friend may have to stay closer to home from now on. In the richest country of the world, we have a state capitol that cannot provide clean or drinkable water. More of our cities aren’t far behind. Citizens are flooding and dying in the hills of Kentucky, wildfires are destroying our west coast, and whole rivers and lakes are drying up.
We have two potential responses. The current response is to ignore and blame. We’d rather debate about what went wrong than solve. However, when Katrina hit, the true soul of America responded. I had tons of friends who drove south to help and emptied their pocketbooks to provide aid. We saw then America’s soul. We were friends and neighbors, stopping by the side of the road because a stranger was in need.
We are capable of solving crumbling infrastructure, hunger, flooding, health crisis, or whatever comes up in the future if we are more like my daughter’s friend, and less like fault-finders. I had a friend on Little Rock’s city board. He made it a point of reminding each of his fellow board members that our first obligation in government was to provide basic services — police, fire, good roads, water, sewer, etc. Until, people had clean drinking water, wish lists and special projects were put on the back burner.
Nowhere in America should people be deprived of clean water. In finding and replenishing America’s soul, Jackson, Mississippi, is a good place to start.