Out of darkness comes light
As most of you are aware, my beautiful island of Puerto Rico was decimated by the path of Hurricane Maria on 9/20/2017. The infrastructure and people are hurting and will be hurting for many months to come. If you are interested in helping, please consider making a donation here.
Diaspora. Diáspora. Almost identical in Spanish and English, except for that little mark sassily dancing above the a. Never have I paid so much attention to this word like I have in the last 12 days.
My island people, always happy, always seeing the bright side of the situation. Always ready to welcome somebody into their home. Personal space? What is that? In a hurry? Sorry friend, you are in the Caribbean, no reason to rush here. We need to get back to those days.
I have to say I am so proud of and hopeful for human kind when I see how the 5 million Puerto Ricans who live outside the island, who for one reason or another had to leave their home, have come together in all sorts of humanitarian efforts. These are the moments when I think, maybe, humanity does stand a chance.
Acute and chronic stress
People often talk about survival of the fittest, sink or swim, every man for himself. However, the reality is that acute stress brings people together. If you look back at 911, Hurricane Sandy or war veterans you can see the strong bonds people form when crisis arise. Research suggests that when people feel out of control they show greater generosity and helpfulness towards others. We are social creatures and depend on each other to survive. In periods of uncertainty and danger, when we are reminded of our vulnerability, we are more likely to seek solace and comfort in each other.
Vulnerability is key for social bonding. When we are comfortable and feeling on top of the world, we are less likely to think of others and share.
When we are stressed and vulnerable we are likely to seek out our fellow humans. Interestingly, we do not fare well with chronic stress. While we may thrive with acute stress, chronic stress beats us down physically and mentally. It affects our health and even weakens our immune system. It makes us cranky and actually has the opposite effect of acute stress. We snap at people and get easily annoyed. All the positive aspects of acute stress dwindle when stress lasts too long.
In the end, the fact that we respond in this way when faced with short term stressful situations reminds me of the saying “out of darkness comes light“. In the worst of situations we can rise up and bring each other up. I am very excited to see the island rise up again and my people, in the worst of circumstances, find that light. #PRrises