The Helpers

I want to crawl into a hole.  I want to plug my ears and make it go away.  What makes a person do this to other people?  Are there more people out there like that?  I’m talking about the bombing of the Boston Marathon.  Peoples’ lives erased or changed forever.  What’s the use in feeling good about people anymore?

With the help of many people online, including Amanda Palmer and Patton Oswalt, I actively changed my attitude.  Was this really a sign that the whole world had gone to shit and there was no hope for anyone anymore?  Or is this when humanity shows its true colors?

Wow.  That’s pretty cool.  I wonder if that’s only an outlier.  What about everyone else?  Was there anybody else that did anything about it?

Everyday citizens stepping up to direct traffic during the chaos.

Okay then.

Look for the helpers

Mister Rogers was right.  He’s a smart guy.  We need to look for the helpers.  And there were many of them.  Like Patton Oswalt mentions, the good vastly outnumber the bad.  So many people rushed in to help the injured.  So many gave blood.  So many in Boston opened their doors to strangers who couldn’t get a flight out or find a hotel to stay.

So who do you know that’s a helper?  I’m fortunate to have so many in my life.  My mother works in public health and helps coordinate disaster preparedness.  My wife is a surgeon.  My sister cares for the mentally ill.  I have aunts and uncles who have worked in medical and emergency fields.  They’re amazing people, and I wish I was able to do what they do.

But what can someone like me do?  I’m pretty useless when there’s anything more than moderate bleeding involved.  You might be the same way.  There are plenty of ways you can help, though.  There are more things in the world going on than just the disaster in Boston.  There’s such an air of impotent helplessness when something like this happens.  But remember, there are tragedies in your hometown right now.  There are people who need your help that aren’t making major news.  Here are some ideas for you:

Give Blood!  I’m O+, so I’m pretty popular with the Red Cross.  You might be too!  And if you aren’t able to give blood for whatever reason, you can still donate money.  That always helps.  At least take a CPR class.

You can go a bit beyond that and join the Bone Marrow Registry.  That could seriously save someone’s life.

You could also give to your local Food Bank.  It could be the difference between a child having or not having a meal tonight.

Smile and talk to people.  There are so many out there who hunger for human contact and don’t have a person to turn to.  Listen.  Be there for someone.  It can also make the difference in someone’s life.

I have done and I will do many of the above.

I still feel helpless.  I focus on the helpers.  It doesn’t keep me from crying as I write this.  It doesn’t keep the sadness and frustration away.  What it does, though, is keep me away from the terrible emotion of hate.  I love people, even though sometimes I might say otherwise.  I think that we are the best and only thing for each other.  We can’t count on gods or miracles.  The promise of eventual justice won’t change anything, and relying only on that will leave a person empty inside.  We can talk, hug, cry, smile, and make each other feel loved.  That’s what we can do to help right now.

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