Opinion | With the abundance of tragedy and violence in the media, look for the helpers
If the Shew Fits
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 00:09
There’s a semi-truthful saying in media that no news is good news, and good news is no news. Stories of murder, destruction, poverty or unrest seem to dominate the newswires, painting a rather bleak picture of the world.
In the last week, we’ve seen a few more dark strokes of that downtrodden paintbrush cover the world’s canvas, with over 1,000 more casualties in Syria even amidst negotiations, and 13 dead after a shooting in our own nation’s capital, according to The Seattle Times.
With all these awful artists leaving their painful marks, getting lost in the negative and therefore in the worst of people, is easy.
The famous Mr. Fred Rogers said, as quoted from his company’s webpage, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
With his words in mind, this week I stopped asking “why?” and started searching for the uplifting headlines.
You don’t even have to look that hard to realize they’re somewhere nestled in each of the negative headlines you hear each day. The men and women of our police and first-responder forces can provide countless, incredible stories of this heroism. We saw them running into burning, collapsing buildings on Sept. 11 and we saw them this week, risking their lives to rescue the injured — flying helicopters directly in the shooter’s line of sight, according to CBS News.
Equally remarkable, are the civilians who rise in these circumstances to do the extraordinary.
I quickly found these kinds of helpers in the midst of the Navy Yard shooting. On Monday, when news of the shooting surfaced, Jacquelind Alston couldn’t reach her husband Ernest, a janitor at the Washington Navy Yard, according to CNN. After hearing her story while interviewing the families gathered at the Nationals Stadium, CNN reporters connected with Ernest’s boss, who was able to confirm that although on lockdown, Ernest was safe.
These reporters took time from their coverage to give one woman the greatest thing she could have received that day: peace of mind. “Thank you for being my support unit, God bless all of you,” Alston said. This is but one small example of people doing good in the face of evil.
In Syria, over two million people have been displaced due to the ongoing violence playing out in neighborhoods and small towns, many losing track of their loved ones in the chaos, according to the United Nations.
However, members of these communities are working tirelessly to reunite husbands with wives, children with parents. One such successful reunion was documented on a now viral, tear-jerking YouTube video.
A father from the small town of Zamalka, which was hit with sarin gas attacks, is sobbing as he sees his toddler who had been presumed dead for the first time since the attack, according to the Huffington Post. Overcome with emotion, he is propped up in a chair by three other men, and clutches his son to his chest, crying as the other men cry, “Allahu akbar!” meaning, “God is the greatest.”
The CNN staff at the Navy Yard and the men who reunited a father with his child in Syria are only the beginning.
At the Boston Marathon, three active-duty soldiers of the Massachusetts National Guard completed the 26.2 miles in full military gear, complete with their 40-pound backpacks, according to The Huffington Post. As they neared the finish line, the bombs detonated, but the soldiers never stopped running. They, like many others at the scene, became instant first-responders, removing debris to rescue the injured around them.
I won’t even begin to delve into the heroic helpers of 9/11, because I cannot cram their amazing acts into an 800 word essay, much less this meager paragraph. But I will say this: I am consistently amazed by the work of everyday people in times of great tragedy, here in the U.S. and abroad.
To so selflessly help a fellow man in distress in these circumstances is to directly defy the evil that executed these attacks that wished to create chaos and fear. Instead, after each of these horrific events, people had banded together and united under the acts of heroism performed by people who are neighbors and strangers, just like us.
So the next time a catastrophe strikes, do what Mr. Rogers did. Look for the helpers and consider being prepared to become one. Maybe someday you’ll be needed to paint over the darkness yourself.