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Political Differences Don't Matter in an Emergency (Reporting From the Eye of a Hurricane)

Bill is a freelance writer. Bill is an author. Bill is a human. What "expertise" he may have has been gained from experience.

When people are trouble, I believe political differences aren't what's important anymore.

When people are trouble, I believe political differences aren't what's important anymore.

The Image

It is an image I won’t soon forget: Three brothers, riding side-by-side in a flat-bottom boat, skimming across the flooded streets of Houston, looking for survivors.

Three brothers from Louisiana!

It was a filler on the local news the other night. Three brothers, living normal lives, saw the images of suffering and felt compelled to help. They left their jobs, pooled their money, purchased a boat, and towed that boat from Louisiana to Houston for the sole purpose of helping those devastated by a monstrous storm.

Complete strangers helping complete strangers.


An Observation

I don’t know those three brothers. I know practically nothing about them. I certainly don’t know if they are Democrats or Republicans. I don’t know how they feel about national politics, whether they like Trump, support The Wall, believe in large government or a shaved-down version. I have no clue how they feel about universal health care or immigration.

We were given none of that information during the short, thirty-second mention on the news.

I can, however, make an observation, one which I believe is very accurate.

While those brothers motored down the streets of Houston, I don’t believe, for one second, that any of those political issues mattered to them. I don’t believe, for one second, that they asked the people they helped if they were Liberal or Conservative. I don’t believe, for one second, if the color of skin played any part in their choosing who to help. I don’t believe, for one second, any of the ridiculous issues bantered about daily on social media were important to them as they rescued their fellow man.

They were just complete strangers helping complete strangers, doing for others what they would want done for them if roles were reversed.

A Plea

For the love of all that is holy, can we please stop with the divisiveness? Can we please stop with the inflammatory remarks on Facebook and Twitter? Can we please stop the name-calling and the insane need to shout our opinions louder than those who would oppose us?

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together,” The Beatles

No, I am not deluded enough to think the golden words “all we need is love” will be enough to change age-old issues and social problems. I believe some people are simply hateful. Others are born twisted. But for the majority of us, good-intentioned, hard-working, reasonably-rational human beings, hopefully sooner, rather than later, the realization will arrive that this is a “we” problem, and only “we” can solve it.

Social cancer cannot be legislated out of existence. Man’s inhumanity towards man cannot be eradicated with a simple “yes” vote.

What is needed is a massive willingness to change, and to work together for that change.

I am he as you are he ........and we are all together

I am he as you are he ........and we are all together

Think About This for a Moment

I have an online friend. We’ll call him Bob for the sake of this discussion. Bob is about as far right on the political spectrum as one can get. Every one of his daily political rants demonizes the Left. According to Bob, the Liberals/Democrats/Socialists are the reason for every one of our societal ills. In other words, anyone to the left of his position is the enemy.

It is insanity!

But here’s what I find curious.

If Bob were trapped in rising flood waters, I would not hesitate to help him to safety, even though I am one of those Leftist bastards.

And even more curious, if I needed rescuing, I am absolutely certain Bob would be there for me if possible.

Can anyone explain this nonsense to me?

Now Look in the Mirror

. . . because if you are not a part of the solution then you are, by elimination of options, a part of the problem.

The insanity must end!

I never argue with Bob. There is no point in it. He is not going to change my mind on some issues, and I’m not going to change his mind. What I do is treat him with respect and let the political system work things out. What I do is try to make a difference on a local level, in my city, in my neighborhood, and in my family. I try to foster an environment of inclusion rather than exclusion, and I wish Bob well as he attempts to do the same thing where he lives.

My feelings toward President Trump, or big corporations, or any other political or social issue, make no difference whatsoever in the grand scheme of things. I will die in ten, fifteen, or twenty years, and the world will continue to spin on its axis quite nicely.

What will make a difference, however, and I believe this with every fiber of my being, is how I treat my fellow man on a very fundamental level.

I do believe in giving respect. I do believe in letting love guide my actions. I abhor rudeness, and I abhor cruelty, selfishness, and greed.

Put those things on my tombstone and I’ll die a happy and contented man.

Back to Houston

Three brothers in a boat.

Doing what they can.

All political bullshit stripped away.

Just three men helping their fellow men.

It brought me to tears.

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 09, 2020:

Thanks for your thoughts, Jack! I always appreciate someone "setting me straight" and teaching me right from wrong.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on March 09, 2020:

Bill, what you are not getting is there is a world of difference between people helping other people in a time of distress and Government providing cradle to grave benefits to its citizens via taxation.

One is a voluntary act of compassion and charity, done willingly and in God's name, while the other is coerced State sponsored programs full of inefficiencies and sometimes fraud and incompetence. Do you get it now?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 09, 2020:

I do have faith in our species, Peggy. Good will prevail. I have to believe that.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 07, 2020:

Oh, if only more people thought and acted like you do Bill, the world would be a much better place. Natural disasters, like the hurricane you mentioned, often bring out the good in people around us. They may be our next-door neighbors or those from far-away states who come here to help. It is sad to think that we have to wait for natural disasters to see more of the good in people.

Of course, there are the looters and scammers who also emerge at times of crisis. Let's pray that the current divisiveness in our country is remedied ASAP. With the coronavirus spreading all across the world, let's hope that we all survive this ongoing disaster in the making.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2017:

Lawrence, I can't even imagine how that would work here, two parties coming to agreement to work together. Completely foreign here, I'm afraid.

Lawrence Hebb on October 24, 2017:


I remember seeing that clip, and I remember thinking, "that's the way it should be!"

By the way, I think you guys would get really confused if you lived here.

We just had an election, but then the parties had to go away and talk things through, (there wasnt a clear winner) it took a month, but we got a government from both the left and right because they found common ground, and while we're trying to figure out how it all works out, somehow it's gonna be good!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2017:

I totally agree, Dee! Now wouldn't it be wonderful if we could carry this into the future?

Dianna Mendez on September 15, 2017:

Goes back to loving your neighbor as yourself. I think these storms have brought out the best in people as they reach out to help those in need.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2017:

Very true, DDE...welcome back my friend...now Florida must pay their dues today, I'm afraid.

DDE on September 09, 2017:

Sad and so much damage to the needy. It is the worst I have heard and just a touchy moment for all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2017:

Lori, my faith in my fellow men was strengthened after Houston. I just wish that kind of humanity would manifest itself without a disaster.

Lori Colbo from United States on September 08, 2017:

Amen brother. I was just talking to someone about this. You got down to the nitty gritty. Disasters can bring out the best of people and unfortunately a few of the worst like the donation scammers. I love how you packed this message in such a way that we have to look at our idiocy. God bless America, not politics. Thanks to everyone who laid down their gauntlet and helped.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 05, 2017:

Tamara, thank you so much. My job now, as I see it, is to spread love and kindness until my last breath. It's so very easy to be mean and cruel, and it is so very easy to justify those types of actions. I want to balance things out a bit, do the difficult, and show kindness to people I meet.

Hugs and love....and hopefully peace to you


Tamara Moore on September 05, 2017:


I want to add a reply to your reply, to my comment...(lol).

Your reply to my comment brought tears to my eyes because I respect and admire you greatly, as I have come to know you a bit more each day through your writings, and even your delightful Facebook posts.

In thought to this, if you also had dark days, like myself (and, I am still in the storm, even now, at times), and you have come through as brightly as you have, then I know there is hope for my days to get better, and for me to accomplish all the things I still wish to achieve- because you have done it (and, I see this).

Your reply gives me hope and inspires me, greatly. I am so happy that you are here, as a beacon of light in the shadows. You restore my faith in humanity.

Hugssss and much love!


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 05, 2017:

Thank you Jackie! They are from Louisiana, and they are three men I wish I could meet in person to say thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 05, 2017:

Thank you Tamara! There was a time when I was not this man; those were dark days, days I had lost my way, but today I am happy to look in the mirror and see who I've become.

Hugs from Olympia, and love always


Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 04, 2017:

Whether these rescuers and helpers are Texans, Americans or whatever, it has given me new hope. I have not been prouder of a group of people in many months. God bless them, whoever they are and I have a strong feeling He is behind them. I feel sure He is now looking over the three brothers.

Tamara Moore on September 04, 2017:


I love you even more, now, due to this post you wrote. And, no worries, I love your wife, too! I know you two are a package deal.

Here's the thing, in this world I have found it difficult to find people with values, integrity, and honesty. And, your post, here, says to me that you indeed have exactly that.

Soooo...I want to keep you, and your wife..and pets, and grandkids, and ... you all can come and live with me. Bring all your berry bushes, too! I have a large backyard, fenced.

Thank you for your humanity, more now than ever!

And, I have prayed for those in this terrible catastrophe. My heart goes out to them, as do my tears.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 04, 2017:

Thank you for your thoughts, Jo! Heartfelt as always. I would expect nothing less from you.

Jo_Goldsmith11 on September 03, 2017:

I find it to be Gods grace that we witnessed this example of love and what it means to be a friend, neighbor and brother of my brother. Our country is torn but it's torn into the sections of right and wrong.

I believe with the alt right as they call themselves have come out of hiding.

The remainder of us who believe in what this country's foundation was based on believe, have pushed back.

Our country is United in the most painful times. So why can't we all pull together and try to turn around this ship?

We don't have leadership in the White House. In my deep conviction, The People of this country is trying to keep the freedom bell from breaking into a million pieces. Harvey showed us we can do it.

The challenges are not just the clean up of a couple great states. It's taking this country back from the hands of unqualified, dangerous people who are all messed up in the head! Great writing as always Bill :-)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2017:

Thank you Peggy and bless you. I know if that were my community I would be there doing everything possible to ease the suffering. Best wishes to you and your city.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2017:

I appreciate that, Chris! Thank you my friend!

Peggy Woods on September 02, 2017:

We have experienced so much kindness and generosity from others here in the Houston area in our time of need. We know the sister of one of those "Cajun Navy" volunteers who came over here from Louisiana to help rescue people from the flood waters.

Catastrophes like this push other nonsense aside. People's lives come first and like you wrote, it does not matter what their color, religion or politics happens to be.

Those of us who were not impacted with flood waters or tornado damage need to do all we can to help our fellow man during this stressful time. Your post is wonderful and sends a great message.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on September 02, 2017:

Bill, what a timely, important message. Thank you. I posted this on my Facebook page for freelance writers. https://www.facebook.com/cam8510/

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 02, 2017:

Maria, you are sweet. Thank you and Happy Labor Day weekend to you and yours.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 02, 2017:

I totally agree, Larry! It is the universal cure-all for what ails us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 02, 2017:

Thank you for your thoughts, Jo! Disaster does bring out the best in our citizens, doesn't it? I wish we didn't need a disaster to see it.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on September 02, 2017:

Dear Bill,

You have a way of teaching / sharing without preaching.

Thanks for sharing these three brothers and one of the best lyrics ever: "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." (The Beatles)

Hope you and Bev have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.



Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on September 01, 2017:

There is something about helping that strips all the other hatred away.

Wonderfully written.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on September 01, 2017:

At this particular time in our country we so need these images. It makes me proud to be an American. This is who we are. This is what we do. In every disaster here in our country or across the globe, when disaster strikes, Americans reach out. I don't know if other countries do this or not, but there is really a spirit of charity in this country, deep and touching.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 31, 2017:

Thank you so much, Emese! You are a good person.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 31, 2017:

We can hope for sure, Zulma, and do what we are capable of doing. :) Thank you my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 31, 2017:

Thank you so much, ChitrangadaSharan! It is my hope that the majority of us think this way, feel this way, and live this way.

Emese Fromm from The Desert on August 31, 2017:

This is such a powerful message, Bill; loved it and made me cry. You mirrored my sentiments exactly. Thank you!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on August 31, 2017:

It's been awhile since you written one of these essays, Bill. Glad to see you haven't lost your touch.

Like you, I'm not out to change the world. I just want to leave my little corner of it a little better for my having been here. I hope I can pass that on to my children and they to theirs. Perhaps, if we all did this, it might just change the world. We can hope, right?

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 31, 2017:

What a wonderful and powerful message!

This is humanity and I believe majority of us think in the same way as you have expressed in this heart touching hub.

Human relations should be full of compassion for each other. The pain should be felt and the desire to help each other should come naturally irrespective of colour, language, nationality , religion and of course political beliefs.

Thank You for sharing this excellent and important article!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 31, 2017:

Thank you so much, Venkatachari M! My prayers go out to those who are suffering worldwide.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 31, 2017:

Thank you so much, Linda! Of course it makes sense to you; you are a good and kind human being.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on August 30, 2017:

Very much heart touching scene presented in a great manner.

I wonder what those people must be feeling on reading this article.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 30, 2017:

This is an inspirational and important article, Bill. What you have said makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

I believe that, Mary! I really do! I wish it didn't take a catastrophe for us to notice the good around us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

Dora, I hope I live long enough to see it actually happen. Thank you for being a positive influence in this world.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

Thank you my friend, and thank you for sharing the "to-do" list of proactive, positive activities. I totally agree.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on August 30, 2017:

Bill, I think we all have more in common than we know. Whether it's wars or natural disasters, it makes each of us reevaluate our place in the social fabric.

The US and the world have had a lot of social upheavals in the recent past but there is a thread of human kindness which binds us all together.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

No, Pop, you aren't Bob! I appreciate you stopping by and I agree, this is an important message.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

And I thank you, Duane! Let's hope we can turn this thing around, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

Thank you for sharing your experience, Marlene. Bless you always!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

Well said, DreyaB...thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

I really believe that, Clive! I hope I'm not wrong. :) Thanks my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

Perfectly state, Leah....I can certainly be cynical, but then some little act of kindness happens to make me realize that is a lot of good out there still. Thank you for commenting.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2017:

It truly does, Flourish. I sometimes wonder what happened to the humanity in so many people, and then something like the three brothers happens and I find hope again.

breakfastpop on August 30, 2017:

I hope I'm not Bob, but in all seriousness the fools who try to divide us should look at the rescue efforts by people of all colors and nationalities. That is really who we are. I think your piece is important, billy, especially now.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 30, 2017:

Bill, thanks for this message. I hear it. I feel it. I will remember it. "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." Lord, help us live that way today and everyday."

McKenna Meyers on August 30, 2017:

These are the days to stop and notice all the little things that make our world beautiful and give us hope in humanity, whether it's a hummingbird at a flower, a toddler licking an ice cream cone, or three brothers in a boat looking to help. The meanness on social media is beyond anything I've ever seen, but it just represents a small percentage of angry, hateful people. I turned that all off. Got off Facebook and all the other crap that makes us depressed and doesn't enrich our spirits. Interact with REAL people in the REAL world and there's so much good. Love this inspiring piece, Bill!

Duane Townsend from Detroit on August 30, 2017:


Words like you just wrote may just save humanity.

I'm not kidding.

Thank you.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 30, 2017:

Three brother's in a boat... This story touches my heart deeply. When I had to evacuate my home because of a flood warning, my "three brothers in a boat" were old friends who I had lost touch with for about six years. It didn't matter that we hadn't called or talked in years. Without hesitation, they came to my rescue. That's the way the world should be... like H.O.W. Such a good cause. Good seeing you, Bill.

DreyaB on August 30, 2017:

I'm not an American, but a Brit living in France, and I couldn't have said it any better myself. Everyone can make a difference, however small, if they so choose...

Clive Williams from Jamaica on August 30, 2017:

When all backs are against the wall. Color or politics dont count

Leah Kennedy-Jangraw from Massachusetts on August 30, 2017:

I agree, I was thinking about this yesterday and how a terrible natural disaster has, at least, brought the goodness of Americans back regardless of race. Sometimes it seems these disasters bring out the worse, looting for example, and maybe that is happening but I am hopeful since a lot of the coverage is focused on people helping other people. Boat owners from all around the country coming to help, donations of all kinds being made, etc. It is terrible what is happening but at least it shows how good our country can be, how we rally around each other in times of need.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 29, 2017:

It is very difficult to watch and I worry about online friends from the area as well as strangers. It all comes down to empathy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 29, 2017:

Shannon, it is truly unbelievable, and my heart goes out to them all. Reports have it that recovery will take years...upwards of ten years....that in itself is enough to make the strongest man, or woman, weep.

My best wishes to your friends and family in the zone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 29, 2017:

Bill, I don't know how national coverage has been other than the nightly news, but it is horrifying, especially since I have friends and my husband has family in the area. You are so right about people being able to come together simply to help people. It's too bad division has to happen outside a disaster, but we should be grateful it can be put aside when it really counts.

I just got off the phone with my best friend. She is stuck at home and has been for days. She's been worried as she watched water rise in her own neighborhood and spoke with friends, family, and co-workers who had to evacuate.

I have seen pictures people we know shared online as well as the images on the news. Shelters here are starting to fill and children are registering in DFW to start school this week with our kids up here.

And I remember being trapped in the flash flood. It scares me to think of so many facing that situation in their own homes. And I remember how strong the current was when they were finally able to get to me, even after it receded some. So watching these people Wade through the water with babies on their back is hard to watch. My friend said she had to turn her tv off for awhile because she couldn't stand the images any longer. We did the same thing on 9-11...we were roommates and had to turn the images off.

But on the other hand, the coverage here also highlights the Texans coming together to aid one another regardless of race, religion, and politics. That aspect offers hope. I can't tell you all the stories, but one was a black officer speaking about how he didn't think about rescuing a white family and just reacted. A picture was snapped by some news source and he was able to look at the children clinging to him. He now feels connected to them for life. And we watched on local channels as people boated through the streets.

There's a number to text that puts an automatic ten dollar donation on the next phone bill. I don't know if that is national news. But they say not to bring donations to shelters around here and to donate money instead to the reputable agencies.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 29, 2017:

Totally agree, Mike. I wish it were closer. I would have been in the car heading there the next day....the images will be with me forever and hooray for the Cajun-Navy!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 29, 2017:

Hello Bill - I am watching Houston, and am amazed. The Cajun-Navy as they have been dubbed, are the heroes of the story so far. As are the three brothers, getting a boat and heading right towards the trouble. People are not politics, and politics are not people. People are helping people, but when that water recedes, the billions needed to rebuild will come from a healthy, stable government.

Oh, great shout out for those able to get there and help.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 29, 2017:

Thank you Jack Lee! I appreciate your humanity. We could work together no matter which side of the political spectrum we are on.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 29, 2017:

I know you would, Sally. Of that I have no doubt.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 29, 2017:

Thank you Bill! I appreciate you.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on August 29, 2017:

Well said and I am one of those on the right. I am one that lives by example and not just with words. What you captured is what I have been trying to do all my adult life. My politics and my philosophy of live intersect. I have tried to communicate this idea to others... after Katrina, it was the same... Those that wait around for FEMA to rescue them were disappointed. At a time like that, only people can help other people one on one at a local level...

Your sentiments are eloquently said and so simple.

You are absolutely correct.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on August 29, 2017:

Bravo! I hope that I too will have those sentiments written on my own grave. The images of people standing chest high in those waters and even a few alligators finding themselves in unfamiliar waters will stay with many of us for a long time. If I were there I would like to think that I too would behave like those 3 men in a boat.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on August 29, 2017:

Bravo! Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

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