During A Disaster, Who Cares About Politics?

Focus on our common humanity, not our differences

Shefali O'Hara


Photo by Saikiran Kesari on Unsplash

I’ve been in accidents and had strangers help me. One time, my vehicle got stuck in a perilous place and several burly men showed up to carry it to safety. I was very grateful to them.

You know what they didn’t do?

They didn’t ask me about my political affiliation before helping me.

Because when it comes to helping people in a bad situation — our common humanity should be what matters.

Reading about Hurricane Ian — I’ve been praying for the people in Florida, in Puerto Rico, and in other places damaged by the storm. I’ve been praying for human beings. I have not been praying just for one group or another.

I go to a church where most of the congregation probably votes for Democrats. I don’t know for sure because we don’t often talk about it, but from casual conversations, that is the basic way the church leans. But would we turn away a MAGA Republican who needed help? No!

Same with churches I’ve known where most of the members were conservative… I had a friend who was part of a very conservative Catholic congregation. Back in the late ’80s, he volunteered with a group that helped care for AIDS patients. He spent several hours every week caring for people whose politics he did not agree with, but who he loved as human beings.

I went with him one time, and saw how loving he was. He genuinely cared.

I’m not going to judge people who love other people.

Maybe I’m more liberal but I have friends from all over the political spectrum who are kind and decent people. I think that matters more than anything else. Maybe I’m wrong.

But as someone who is fighting cancer — when I’m getting chemo and the nurse is sticking me with a needle, all I care about is that she is being gentle and that she knows what she is doing. That she gets my medications right and monitors me for any problems.

Do I care about her politics? No.

I want to be treated as a fellow human being, not as a member of a focus group. And I want to treat her the same way.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to vote based on my beliefs. But part of that includes believing that people matter, even those who don’t agree with me.

I am fighting stage IV cancer. If you can help with medical bills, I would really appreciate it. Or if you enjoy my writing and would like to buy me a cup of coffee, that’s great too. Maybe someday I can return the favor.

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Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.