The wild fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee last week were devastating to so many people. The smoke alone caused problems for people far removed from the vicinity of the fire. Hundreds of homes and businesses rendered into ash, and many lost their lives or the lives of loved ones. Yet, in the midst of all this chaos the community and surrounding communities came together quickly to help.
One of the great things about living in this area, is the willingness to help in dire situations like this, but not all are as “giving” as they seem. While there was a large amount of donations and volunteers, there were many who just used this for their own personal mission. “Pray for Gatlinburg”, “thank god, my cat survived”, are just some of the things you hear people say around here.
When you believe that god saved you, your home, or your pets what does that imply about your neighbors? Does god favor you? Are your neighbors somehow more wicked or less holy than you?
These fires destroyed a lot of people’s lives, homes, and families.
So am I just sitting here bashing on people for their coping mechanisms. Well yes, in a way I am. When people decide to publicly announce how fortunate they are that the creator of the entire universe favors them personally, that feels like a jab at those not as fortunate. And when a team of trained firefighters work for days without going home to rescue you, don’t thank god you’re alive. Give thanks where it belongs, to the hundreds of trained professionals, and volunteers who worked so hard to save all that they could.
Thanks must also be given to the thousands who sent money to the red cross to support relief efforts. Thank all of these people, and realize that while they may or may not share your worldview they certainly share mine. And that’s humanism. Thank everyone who helps you every day, but under no circumstance belittle their humanistic actions by thanking “your god”.