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Only In America

by Kesley Colbert


I’m telling you, Americans are a peculiar lot. We fight each other tooth and toenail over 150-year old statues of dead people. We invade parks and recreation areas to point fingers and shout at one another because of some political issues that half of us don’t understand in the first place. We stand on the street corner and argue until we are blue in the face over which national news networks are actually giving us the “true” story…like, you know, we really believe one of them might care more about the truth than the advertising dollars!

We applaud the pundits that come on TV espousing “our” views and we immediately and wholeheartedly vilify any and all who “beg” to differ with us. We’re split on what the president ought to do and say. We differ on what direction Congress is taking. We attend, or choose to skip, movies based on the political leanings of the leading lady.

We’re fooling ourselves if we believe baseball is still the national pastime!

We call each other names that would make a sailor blush. We are insulted by the mere hint that the “other side” might be gaining an inch on us. We disagree on national policy, whose number one in the latest college football poll, what to do about North Korea, Scientology, what causes gas prices to be so high, which Beatle was the most gifted musician, abortion, states’ rights and which pick-up truck can really haul the biggest payload.

You’d think we’re on the brink of destruction. I’m talking maybe 8 seconds away from exploding from the inside out! We surely can’t last another day with our hands so tightly squeezing around each others’ throats…

And then a hurricane and mass flooding rips across Houston, Texas.

In less than a heartbeat we stopped being Democrats and Republicans; Jewish or Baptist; Liberal or conservative. We didn’t give a flying hoot in a whirlwind who the President of the United States was. It didn’t matter one iota who Kelly Ripa was interviewing or who was decorating the cover of Time magazine.

We had real Americans really hurting.

People came a’running from every state in the union WHILE THE WATER WAS STILL RISING! No one was surprised to see Hispanics laborers loading white families into rescue boats. Or vice versa. It didn’t matter to anyone in the United States the political, religious or social agenda of the black gentlemen wading in waist deep water to make sure everyone was safe in the NEXT house. I saw Asian women hugging and clinging to complete strangers as they struggled toward dry land.

“One for all and all for one” has always been much more than a catchy slogan when push comes to shove in our great nation.

I was particularly drawn to the truck driver from Arkansas. He obviously didn’t have much in material wealth or possessions; about as “regular” a guy as you would ever see. But there was nothing ordinary about his heart! He showed up in his eighteen wheeler loaded to the top line with bottled water. He waved off the offer of money to defray his gasoline costs with a heartfelt, “I got here just as fast as I could.”

Cleveland outfielder Jay Bruce has given $100,000. Mike Trout donated $27, 000. St. Louis first baseman Matt Carpenter has pledged $10,000 for every homer he hits the rest of the season. Professional golfer Stacy Lewis donated her winnings ($195,000) from last weeks’ LPGA tournament. And Houston Texan star J. J. Watts’ Hurricane Harvey relief fund has reached 20 million dollars.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Today’s athletes are just a bunch of selfish, spoiled brats”?

One of Stacy Lewis’ sponsors matched her donation. Another of her sponsors gave a million dollars. Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones donated 1 million. The New York Jet’s ownership did likewise. Houston Astros’ Jim Crane has given even more.

It belies the word on the street about the blood thirsty greed of Corporate America.

As does Sam Byers’ story…he’s an EMT from Arlington who realized the Coca Cola warehouse in Beaumont surely contained a rich supply of soft drinks and bottled water. The plant was closed due to the rising water. It took a quick call to Coke management to get this answer, “Break in and take whatever you need.”

You talk about rallying the troops. Rising to the occasion when the chips are down. Stretching out a helping hand… I’ve seen and heard more people praying to God for His blessing and care on those Houston folks than you’d get at a year-long Billy Graham crusade.

I just hope our children are paying more attention to how we react to a national disaster…than how we treat each other when everything is going well in this country.




Colbert is a 1965 graduate of McKenzie (Tenn.) High School and now resides in Florida. Colbert’s column appears each Tuesday in The McKenzie Banner.

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