Stefan Modrich

Hurricane Laura response brings out best of Fort Bend County 

New Reporter Stefan Modrich is embracing covering the area’s cultural melting pot. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann)

Each morning, I start my day with The Daily Stoic podcast, a short sound bite of wisdom from Ryan Holiday, an Austin-based author and scholar of the school of Stoic philosophy.

In a recent email newsletter, Holiday writes about the elusive “them,” or the “other,” and how Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, discusses tribalism in the sense that the term is most commonly used today.

“Tribalism tempts us,” Holiday writes. “Especially lately. We are suspicious of and think less of people who are not like us, who live differently than us, who come from somewhere different than us.”

What’s so striking about the resolve of the people of Fort Bend County, during an era when our patience and nerves face test after daunting test, is how much they embody the opposite of this notion of tribalism. Instead, they evoke the word’s highest, best calling as a group that bands together to help each other no matter what.

In this week’s paper, you’ll read about the selflessness of Fort Bend County residents who have donated their time, labor and resources to help their neighbors near and far.

As I continue to get out to every corner of the county and meet more and more of you, I am increasingly proud to work in a community that has stepped up for its most vulnerable residents in times of need.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause economic and social disruption, but coronavirus testing centers and drives for curbside personal protective equipment, school supplies and groceries have continued from Richmond to Missouri City.

Beyond that, you’ll also learn about a Lake Charles, Louisiana couple who evacuated due to Hurricane Laura and thanks to a generous Sugar Land resident, has been given a fully-furnished house to live in until it is safe for them to return home.

In the coming weeks, Sugar Land will recognize frontline hospital workers battling COVID-19 with its rescheduled “Healthcare Heroes Week” starting Sept. 21, and residents looking to show solidarity with them can wear blue ribbons or place them in visible locations on trees or front porches.

Let’s check back in with Aurelius. What would he think about the crises we face, and how would he handle the opportunity to contribute in a time of dire need?

“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it…It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it.”

I think it’s fair to say that Jami Arnst, who has opened her doors to those displaced by hurricanes on several occasions and also is a regular blood donor, lives by this principle.

Rather than merely lamenting the tragedy of the circumstances that have befallen some, there seems to be an ethos of perseverance, adaptability, and overcoming obstacles among the people here.

Sometimes, the people tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding our way of life and serving and protecting us may fall short, and when that does happen, we’re going to be a watchdog for you and hold them accountable.

At the same time, we can also give credit where it’s due, and seeing Fort Bend residents step up across racial, ethnic and religious lines to come together in our already diverse community to share a common goal of providing funding and humanitarian aid to fellow Texans and Gulf Coast dwellers is something that should make all of you proud to live, work, and play here.

May we continue to learn from their example, and tap into our gifts to serve others when called upon to ensure this community remains a remarkable place.

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