I believe in human goodwill. I believe that in a world where manners and properness have been put on the backburner and the ‘self’ has been made the priority, that human goodwill still exists within us. That each and every one of us still has the ability and compassion to help other in times of need. Everyday we lay witness to the insolence that people demonstrate towards one another. We see it on the streets, in our cars, on television, in the news, and especially in schools. Perhaps we find ourselves guilty of it from time to time. Sometimes it makes you wonder what the future would be like. At least I know that I do. I see these things and I wonder what the world will be like for my kids, or for my grandkids. If people, and especially our younger generation, are so rude and have so little respect for each other, then what will people be like twenty or thirty years down the line. My mother has often remarked on this same thing. She has told me several times “I feel bad for you guys. I never had to deal with some of these things when I was your age,” and I usually respond with an overly pessimistic “Imagine, these kids are going to be parents someday. Imagine what our kids are going to have to go through.”
But then I think about it. I recall times in my distant and not so distant past when people have put the ‘self’ on the sidelines and brought themselves to help others in need. The most vivid of these memories occurred not to long ago, and it was a frightening experience for all those involved. On a winter vacation about two or three years ago, we had gone to Colorado for about a week. We were trying to get back home in time for Christmas so we had a flight for the 24th. The night of the 23rd there had been a heavy snow that had covered the Denver area. Everything was covered. The streets, in particular had become extremely dangerous, despite constant grooming and salting by the highway patrol. As you were driving along, you could see entire chunks of highway that were black with ice. The sides of the road were dotted with cars that were abandoned, stalled and frozen, crashed into the median, or just general fender-benders. This, of course, in addition to the morning rush hour, slowed traffic down considerably, something that worried us as we were still quite a distance from the airport and were already running behind as usual. As we were driving up an overpass, traffic in front of us began to stop rather abruptly. We began to brake as soon as we noticed the flashing red taillights, but the driver in the pickup truck in front of us didn’t have so much time. They hit their brakes only to continue sliding across the thick ice that had built up on the road. They lost control and the next thing we new, the car was gone. It had hit the right median, flipped over, and rolled off the side of the bridge. We were shocked at how quickly it happened. My mom panicked and quickly picked up the phone to dial 911. We turned off the overpass onto the street below, as did several other people, fearing the worst. The car had landed upside down on its drivers’ side on a steep hill off the overpass. The cab was crushed in. It remained hanging there as if it was being held up by some invisible hand, but rocked dangerously back and fourth as the driver moved inside. A crowd of people, dressed in everything from suits and dresses to plain jeans and shirts, had already gathered around the vehicle determining the best way to pull the driver to safety. You could here her asking for help inside, but then panic as the car rocked each time she tried to free herself. We decided the best way to get her out would be to try to hold up the car while one or to other people tried to pull her out of the rear window of the cab, which had already broken with the crash. And that’s exactly what we did. Upon pulling her out, she was scratched and bruised and in a state of shock, but she otherwise had no major injuries. She was wearing her seatbelt. They sat her down in the snow, put their coats over her and waited for the ambulance. She was thankful for what these complete strangers had done for her.
And that is what affected me most, that these strangers, people she had never seen before and would likely never see again, had put the ‘self’ aside to help her. People in every form of garb, from all walks of life had gathered around to help this person. They forgot about themselves for just enough time to help someone in need. This kind of thing gives hope. It reminds you that somewhere within everyone there is a compassionate and caring spirit, the ability to be selfless for just a minute, and to help others around them. Since then, I’ve seen such an outpour of support and compassion several times. I’ve seen it on the news in the selfless actions of neighbors trying to save each other in New Orleans during Katrina, to the aid and help sent to the Tsunami victims in Asia, to the helping hands offered to find and collect personal belongings and rebuild lives in the recent tornado that wiped out the entire town of Greensburg, Kansas. The incredible selflessness and compassion that we, as human beings, are capable of may not always be evident, but this I can be sure of; somewhere deep inside every single one of us, it’s there ready to lend a helping hand. This I Believe.
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