The USA is a big country. It is filled with more people than I could ever know or meet; and it often feels a life time away from coastal Victoria. Yet whenever I have travelled there, I have been transfixed by the unity of the country. Not in the way American’s speak or act; you need only travel across a single state to realise that the cultural differences in the US are quite distinctive and vastly different; but rather in what has united all the people I have met.
It is the story of where they were the day the Twin Towers fell down; their memories of Columbine; the day Hurricane Katrina went through New Orleans or where they were standing during the Boston Bombings. Every person has a different perspective on these events, but the fact that America is their country; their own people were hurt; and that they were forever changed by the events is integral to their lives.
Sitting in my lounge room continents and oceans away from the devastation that is happening in the southern states right now, I have a small inkling of the pain these people are going through. The stories of an Iraqi veteran who died shielding his family from a tornado, the children who have passed away far too soon due to this disaster and the faces of the victims appearing on the screen grieve me. They are the people who have made such a large and distant country home to a girl who grew up in a suburban Australian city, fearful of even walking out of her front door.
I have been keeping track of what states have been affected by the tornado’s. I have friends in the south and mid-west, and so I have kept an eye on their social media and the news to make sure they are okay. As the faces of those we have lost have popped up on the screen, I have silently prayed that they won’t belong to any of my friends. I am not American, I am not currently experiencing their great loss or fear as they pre-empt what may come; but I stand with you America.
I have learnt that distance and cultural differences do not have to separate us; it is the unification of a common respect and love for humanity that drives us to help one another. There are people in our country who need love and support, and helping our neighbour should be an integral part of our lives. But there are also people half a world away struggling; and so in some small way I honour them with this post. I say to them, “You are not alone,” and “Tomorrow can be better.” America, you will rebuild. I have yet to see a day when your courage and resilience has been trumped by natural or man-made disaster; and I know you will join together as one as you grieve and then celebrate your strength.
To my southern and mid-western friends, stay strong. You are in our thoughts and prayers during this time. You are not alone.
To download the Red Cross Tornado App which contains warnings, advice and an “I’m safe” indicator for your family and friends, please go here. You can also find contact details for your local Red Cross here.
To donate to the Red Cross please visit their website.
If you need emotional support during this time, we’d encourage you to talk to your local Red Cross. Alternatively you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) on 1-800-273-8255, Lifeline(Australia) on 13 11 14 or the Suicide and Crisis Hotline (Canada-wide) on 1-800-448-3000.