Isn’t it interesting that when the April 28 tornado came through, Tupeloans practiced what too many of us just preach: Diversity.
The reality of diversity is that regardless of our differences, we will always have more in common.
When things in our worlds are going well and according to our expectations, disasters like the tornado which tore through Tupelo on Monday afternoon are almost unimaginable. And when we do visualize that such calamities can, indeed, strike, we see ourselves comforted and cared for by the friends and neighbors we know and love.
When things in our worlds are going well, we reside comfortably inside our cultural cocoons, peering out just long enough to see how different everyone else is from ourselves, and how grateful we are that we aren’t them. There’s lot of “us” and “them” in times like those.
But about six o’clock in north central Tupelo Monday evening, it was all “us” pulling together, pulling others out together and pulling others to safety….together.
Diversity is different people coming together, working together and triumphing over tragedy….together.
We don’t really consider how important it is that those who are different become those who are one. But that’s what diversity is all about.
Diversity is an entire city coming together in the aftermath of that ravaging tornado with nobody caring what the person’s skin color is, who’s helping dig them out from under the rubble.
Diversity is knowing that you live in the same neighborhood with people who are different, but suffered much more damage … so, without hesitation, you go … and you help….or you take the help that’s offered.
Diversity is what Tupelo put proudly on display last Monday and in the days following.
I could enumerate in very specific ways how race, gender, generation, and even sexual orientation gaps mysteriously disappeared and became profoundly irrelevant as neighbors and strangers alike pitched in to help, ran to the rescue of others, and extended helping hands.
In the aftermath of tragedy, one really doesn’t care what color the hand is that’s giving you a hot plate of food, or a dry blanket. You’re just grateful that the hand is there for you.
Thank you, people of all races and colors. Thank you, whatever your sexual orientation or political persuasion, for loving our city enough to reach out your hand with love to those with whom you may even disagree.
Whether you know it or not, that’s diversity.
So, why does it take a tragedy like Monday’s tornado to make us do what we should be doing all the time?
James Hull is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.