The Flint Water Crisis has been on the top of everyone’s list of topics for discussion and, more importantly, on top of most of our lists to do something about.
I can’t imagine the heartbreak and outrage of feeling the type of helplessness that some of the residents in Flint that have been negatively impacted by this crisis must feel. I have been following the crisis since it was made public by a member of the clergy and a reporter from the City of Detroit. My initial reaction was disbelief; how could something like this happen in this day and age? My mood has changed to an overwhelming sense of grief and compassion.
There is nothing more demeaning than feeling helpless and hopeless. For instance, living with the disease of addiction is a horrible existence; especially when it’s been exacerbated by active use of the substances (both legal and illegal) that caused the debilitating interruption of daily activities. Active use usually leads to negative consequences (I.e., loss of family, loss of friends, loss of employment and in some cases, loss of life). What could be more hopeless than losing practically everything that has meaning in your life?
Some would say that that’s exactly what has happened to the residents of Flint; “they’ve lost everything”. I submit to you that there is reasonableness with that feeling because losing what could be a significant part of your future has to be defeating. Thank God that there are still humanitarians and heroes around who believe in the best of people, and who also believe that people can have their hope restored. The men we serve took the initiative to offer support and help for the people of Flint before the onslaught of public and private donations, by donating 100 cases of water without fanfare because according to them, “it means more to us to do something for people in need, rather than say something”. I work with an amazing group of people who work for an amazing group of people.
It would be easy for me to take a political stance on this crisis and choose sides to lay blame, but I have found that once you’ve realized that your purpose in life is to help others succeed and become the best that they can, the need to help outweighs the need to know who did what and when (I am extremely confident that the responsible parties will be made accountable). Everything about this was wrong; people should have been made aware of the danger, people should have reported data accurately and honestly, people should have done what was right for the citizens of Flint, and now, people must do right by the citizens of Flint with whatever it takes (and is going to take) to help everyone heal.
If you’re fighting for the appropriate words to describe what you feel because of what has happened to our fellow citizens in Flint, I implore you to “do something rather than say something”. They deserve our compassion, altruistic support, and resources to heal. Please join in the discussion; I would love to know your thoughts and I would like to carry on the discussion of serving others in their time of need.
- David Sampson, MSW, LMSW
Mariners Inn CEO