How People Respond in a Crisis: Selfish Hoarding or Selfless Giving
There’s no doubt that all of us have been through the wringer over the past two years. The pandemic has caused no end to supply disruptions from basic household goods to critical medical care. We have also been isolated from each other–and when we do go out, we see only the top half of anyone’s faces. It has all taken its toll on people’s spirits and mindset.
Some respond to adversity by turning inward, hoarding, and remaining fearful of outsiders. Thankfully, others respond by going outside of themselves, setting up food banks and donation funnels, exploring creative work-arounds to defeat any obstacle. This calls to mind an uplifting story I heard recently…
Trapped in a Blizzard, Feeding the Hungry
In addition to the pandemic, we’ve been treated to some extremes in weather, resulting in devastating fires, hurricanes, and snowstorms. In early January, the Mid Atlantic region was buried in an icy snowstorm that paralyzed traffic on Interstate 95. People were trapped in their cars overnight with temperatures dipping into the teens with no food and no hope of the roads clearing anytime soon. Hundreds of motorists were stranded in a forty-eight-mile backup due to jackknifed trucks. A young couple stuck in this nightmare scenario rose up and performed a miracle in order to feed all the hungry people. How?
Just ahead of them on the road there was a Schmidt Baking Company truck. . It had been loaded that morning with 8,000 loaves of bread for a distribution center south of Washington DC. The couple decided to act and took a chance calling the company’s customer service line. When they explained their situation, calls were relayed all the way to the top brass at the company, who gave permission for the bread to be distributed to the stranded and starving motorists.
Food Materialized from Nowhere…Maybe
This account of the bakery truck heroes feeding the masses of course reminds me of the Biblical account of Jesus feeding the five-thousands with five loaves and two fish. According to the story, a small boy is the only one who offers up his food (the loaves and fish) but it is not enough to feed the massive gathering of hungry (possibly quite cranky by this time) people. It might be more in keeping with human nature to hide away one’s own food stores amidst quite a crowd, fearing it would be taken and you would be left with nothing. Instead, an innocent young boy offers it up and I see that as the first miracle of this story. The second miracle occurs when they start handing it out to the crowd and the food is not depleted, but instead keeps up with demand. Jesus is the catalyst for this miracle and it demonstrated his divine power over elements, but I like to think part of the miraculousness of this was the effect on the people. I imagine that they saw others sharing, offering hidden food stores and generously donating to the common good, and it infected the crowd to such an extend that food became plentiful as if by magic.
Finding the Goodness in Others and Yourself is Itself a Type of Miracle
Who knows what really happened, but I believe that it is nothing short of amazing when people change and tap into that divine part of themselves in order to benefit others. Most people strike a balance between guarding their own family’s needs against helping and donating to others. This couple in the blizzard bread rescue, however, got so caught up in helping others, they returned to their car without taking any bread for themselves! Thankfully, the bread truck driver remedied that by bringing them a package of bread and rolls he’d set aside. I think there is good in people. I think there is still potential for miracles to happen in this world. We simply have to recognize them when we see them.