Three Days from Mayhem

What is the longest you’ve been without power? A few days? A week? What does it do to you? How do you react to the situation and to people around you?

I’ve done about a week in Louisiana (major hurricane magnet that state.) Other times, just a day or so. Yet, we always seem to survive.

Back in the day when I was in grad school, a major hurricane swept through North Carolina. Power was out all over. It was a week of madness. And it was during this week I saw how desperate, and mean, and angry, and volatile people get in just a couple of days.

It had been just under 72 hours without power. The storm had passed and now we were just in clean up mode. Power company workers were flooding into the Capitol city and little by little limbs were removed, lines were replaced, and power came back block by block.

Yet, it was late Saturday afternoon, and the church I attended during those years of academic rigor was still without power. It was a dead in transformer, so the issue was plain. Our pastor was looking to get power restored so our church family could gather, pray for our community, open up as a shelter, encourage one another, and worship. So he went to a nearby neighborhood and found a crew. He asked them if they would check the church lines next.

They agreed. So they finished on the one street and headed out to the church. Meanwhile, a few residents who had been on the next street over, the street that would have been next in line, saw what had happened. They were not happy. In fact, they were so ‘not happy’ that they got baseball bats and followed the crew to the church parking lot demanding they fix their home’s power first. They actually beat the crew up when they told the residents they would have to wait.

Three days. 72 hours. That’s all it took to make these people give up all civility and go back to gang warfare. These were suburbia, normal, white collar workers that gave in to actions of debasement. Not Antifa. Not anarchists. This wasn’t Portland.

Civility. Hospitality. Checking out for our neighbors.

It’s been about 48 hours so far here. Constantly people are checking on me. I walked to some neighbors yesterday and checked on them. (I was selfish, they have a generator, so I got warm for a bit.) I went to another neighbor’s home to use their WiFi to broadcast the church’s worship video and do a Bible study. Another neighbor invited us over for lunch. We’ve been offered use of a small house that’s being refurbished. (Limited amenities, but at least heat.) We are checking on each other … watching out for each other.

What causes some people to lean towards violence and anger while others reach out with kindness and concern? Is it time? Will my little community turn on each other in a day or two? I doubt it. They may fight like the dickens at the dinner table over the last piece of chicken, but they would go to the mat for each other.

Is it their upbringing? City vs Country? Prepared vs Caught off guard? Maybe they were spanked as a kid? Or not spanked? Does their faith in God have anything to do with it?

None of these really answer the question of why. And maybe we will never really know the reason. But we can know the cure. You. Me. If each of us act with civility, maybe that will spur others to do the same. May we be peacemakers. May we offer respite from the storms of life – with kindness, gentleness, and turning away of wrath.

Don’t be the cause of mayhem, be the cure.


Just an update on how we are doing … Yesterday, I sent my wife to a hotel in Lynchburg. She has an important early meeting at her office that requires a 6am arrival. She needed heat, a hot shower, warm bed.charged iPhones, normalcy.

I stayed home, hoping for power to return. It hasn’t. But the freezer did leak as ice melted. So I toweled up water by candlelight. Lisa didn’t sleep much (she missed her hubby) but she stayed warm. I layered up, read by candlelight, and camped out for the night. But Granny Bees is open by use of a generator, so by 6am (opening time), I am drinking hot coffee and ordering eggs. Kind of a bit of normalcy for me too.

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