“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
But we know that thousands of heads did bow in prayer in Robeson County, both as Hurricane Matthew visited Oct. 8, and during the days that followed as we watched the waters drown so much that nourishes and sustains us, and we looked skyward for the salvation we knew would be needed.
And we know now that those prayers have been — and continue to be — answered.
On page 1A of today’s The Robesonian, we provide a fraction of the coverage that is deserved in recognition of the faith-based groups that have come to our rescue, knowing that we will overlook way more than we will properly acknowledge. Among them are Christians, Jews and Muslims, who have stood shoulder to shoulder while helping to feed and clothe thousands of people of all stripes who have lost so much to Matthew, as well as help them begin the difficult and dirty task of cleansing their homes to see if rehabilitation is even possible.
So we ask that you not call and admonish us because we missed that group or this one; we tried to get a cross-section that is representative of the effort, and we knew it could not be complete. If you believe we have left holes that must be filled, we invite you to send us a letter to the editor for publication. Remember as well that these people are not here for the camera, but to expedite the healing.
These faith-based organizations have provided strong backs and sweat, and comfort as well, which is needed because many of us have been broken not only physically but emotionally.
Our only quarrel with Mahatma Gandhi in this instance is theirs have not been the “simplest acts of kindness,” but have been essential and even heroic. They arrived immediately, have been tireless in the delivery of service, and for some, Robeson County will be their adopted home not for weeks or even months, but for years.
There has been no greater source of division in our world’s short history than religion, and millions have been slayed or maimed by its sword. That continues today, even in our 21st century, and the extremists to the left and right feed that frenzy to advance their own hate-filled agenda at the altar of a false prophet.
But what we have seen in Robeson County in recent weeks is God, by whatever name you prefer, doing his best work, providing the inspiration for charity that reveals the best of humankind.
It will be a long while, but Robeson County and those affected by this event of Biblical proportions will recover, if not fully. And eventually those who have come here, directed by their faith and a desire to embrace the best of it, will leave and do their good deeds elsewhere.
We can only hope that the spirit of unity and benevolence that they blessed us with endures.
Today, that is our prayer.