Violence, Flooding, Death, and Destruction. These are the words used over and over in national headlines to describe the events in Baton Rouge this past summer. They are words that you hope are never associated with your city. Paralyzing words that add description to tragedy, while simultaneously breathing life into feelings of fear and anger. There is no denying that a truth lies in each of these words as they refer to specific events over the past two months, but they are also incomplete as they only tell part of the story.
Hope, Belief, Compassion, Kindness, and Love. These are the words that paint a much fuller picture of this summer in Baton Rouge. These are the words that tell the story of the events after we buried police officers and watched floodwaters flow into every crevice of the city. There is no doubt I have felt immense levels of sadness and grief over the past two months, but as I reflect I know that I have also experienced equal amounts of compassion and love. For there have been many times when the sadness as real and tangible as it is, simply gets overpowered by enormous waves of hope as our community has united and unwaveringly decided to push forward together. Each time my heart has broken this summer; it has seemingly been mended with an exponential growth of pure love for Baton Rouge.
11 years ago we lost our home and all our possessions in Hurricane Katrina. It was a certainly a trying time but one that taught me that tragedy and disaster are not just the ingredients for sorrow and despair, but also a catalyst for the purest and best elements of humanity to rise up. I know that many tears are still left to be shed as people mourn loved ones and grasp the recovery in front of them. But I am also comforted by own experience to know we will get through it together. There is a beauty in the bravery it takes to not give up, to help one another, and know that you will succeed, and Baton Rouge has certainly let its beauty shine.