Friday, 7 June 2013

The Power of a Toothbrush

It has been a few weeks since the Oklahoman Tornado that tore through the suburbs of the city of Moore. The devastation has been strangely summed by a man speaking on a Channel 4 documentary, when he said that he never really understood what it was like to be without everything, and that his family do not even have a toothbrush between them.

They can't even get a toothbrush, since the shops sell out immediately as everyone else is in the exact same situation.

It may seem like a small, seemingly ridiculous thing to be wanting, but it was enough to drive the man they were interviewing on the screen to tears. He had literally lost every material possession apart from the clothes on his back, and the very few things that he was able to rescue from the rubble that was his house.

Here in Britain, we very rarely experience disasters on the scale that many other countries do, with things like earthquakes or tornadoes only being pathetic little things when they do happen. Even the flooding that is becoming an increasing part of life in Europe does not compare to the devastation that can be brought in an instant in some places in the world.

America speaks our language, and our politicians always speak of our close relationship to the country, so when things happen there, we take notice. They are our cultural cousins, and it does have something of an effect on us when we see what has happened.

Yet, as we look at the neighbourhoods that have been hit, we have to remember a strength about what we are seeing on the news or in documentaries. We are seeing churches and charities coming to together in order to pick up the pieces, make sure people are ok, and gradually begin to rebuild life. It is a strength in community that is rather inspirational.

When the London riots hit, we did see people coming together to fix what had been done the night before, but we equally saw people coming out the next night to destroy it again. Ironically, one the greatest acts of destruction that Britain has faced was due to a break down of law and order for a short time, a symptom of a broken system. This is not to say that America is a perfect place where everything is rosy and beautiful, but sometimes when you look at the community and family in Oklahoma it makes you pine for a world that we abandoned a while ago.

It might be that broken Britain can learn from the actions of a community in Oklahoma, were the value of the church in dealing with the problem has been incredible, and ask ourselves whether or not that same response would be available to us in this country. I am not sure that if the vast majority of Britons were to lose their material possessions, they would have anything left to rely upon.

It used to be that churches were the hub of activity in a village or town. They were the places people went to meet each other, and the places people helped others out. To a degree, they still are today, but so fewer people go to church, and Britain is made broken by its disunity and lack of faith. Sometimes you just have to look into the past and think, "wow, they got it right."

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