By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
It happened in an instant. Unimaginable horror and tragedy stunned a community and, indeed, the world. The collapse of a condominium building in Surfside, Florida, at 1:38 A.M. instantly changed the lives and focus of thousands of people in the U.S., Israel, and South America.
Hundreds of people have been working around the clock, under brutal and treacherous conditions, to save a single life. Rescuers of every race and background are feverishly trying to find even one survivor of any race or background. Brave, skilled, and dedicated heroes are doing what brave, skilled, and dedicated heroes always do: They sacrifice their own safety and well-being to help others. Rescue personnel, regardless of their color or politics, must be pulled off their shift against their will. Trying to save another human being is their sole focus. They work together selflessly as a unified team to save life.
This is not shocking to anyone who has ever worked in an ER, an OR, or an ICU. It’s not a mystery to veterans who have served in combat or police officers who have saved countless lived in emergency situations. However, too many individuals in the realm of politics, the media, academia, and the corporate world remain baffled by genuine courage and devotion in others. Since the beginning of our species, ill-intended people have tried to sow division and strife. Pitting people against one another is malicious, but it has always created an opportunity for power-hungry individuals to seize control. Teaching children and young adults to be suspicious and resentful of others based on race, gender, or any other physical — therefore superficial — characteristic is a form of cultural rot. It is a poisoning of the mind.
The tragic collapse of a condominium complex in Surfside, Florida, shows how misguided our priorities can be. Life is short and precious. There is never a good reason to promote hatred. There is more than enough heartache in life without deliberate nastiness. We should never permit ourselves to be focused on race. We have every reason to keep our focus on grace.