I don’t know if the Law of Thirds is true or even if it really exists, but Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a Soviet prison camp in Siberia, wrote that a third of U.S.S.R. citizens were staunch supportive of the Communist regime, a third were staunch opponents of the regime and the final third kept their opinions to themselves and just tried to survive. I have also read that at the time of the American Revolution a third of the colonists supported the King, a third rebelled against him and a third kept their opinions to themselves.
It would be easy to divide America into thirds as well. One-third leaning left, one-third right and another third less ideologically driven, keeping an eye on what is best for them at any time. However the devastation in Texas suggests a more interesting way to apply my Law of Thirds.
About one-third of people mustered resources to help themselves and others. They watched out for neighbors or headed into the area to assist in rescues, often at great cost and risk to themselves. They opened their homes and pocketbooks to those in need and they kept the plight of those in danger in their hearts, prayers and minds.
Another third saw self-centered opportunity in the disaster. Those on the spot looted. Others saw an opportunity to direct government or charity money to themselves by pretending to help others. Yet others used the disaster to advance their own causes. For instance, they gleefully pounced on the storm’s severity as proof of their global warming agenda. Some of them used the confusion and media focus to trash people they dislike, such as President and Melania Trump or Joel and Victoria Osteen.
The last third scan the news reports but don’t really see that people facing tribulation in faraway places has anything to do with them.
These groups include people on all sides of the American political divide. In the final analysis, those that want to help and are willing to sacrifice their own comfort and resources to do so are those people who can work together to build a strong country. They may disagree on tactics and beliefs, they may need information not readily available to make proper decisions, but they are builders and contributors.
The next group, those who only see themselves no matter what window they look through, are the destroyers. Perhaps they uncharacteristically didn’t live up to their own standards in this particular instance or perhaps they need to fundamentally reform. Without something changing they are a danger to all.
The final group, those who are basically asleep, need to be awakened, prodded and encouraged to actualize their human potential. When things are going well they can be ignored, but at times of peril doing nothing and lack of commitment becomes its own form of danger.
While Houston and other areas in the storm zone are the focus this week, there is never a shortage of need for compassion, contributions and hard work. Sometimes those in need belong to large groups of people and other times small, some crises are publicized and others are known only to a few. We all have the opportunity to respond helpfully to trouble, to manipulate it for our own benefit, or to ignore it.
Lots of people and organizations spout grandiose ideas. Saving the world is all well and good, but a good test of whether someone is truly seeking to serve themselves or whether they actually care for others can be seen by their consistent actions over the course of years more than it can by grand statements that float in vacuous air.