This I Believe
I believe in good will. I believe that most human beings have a good heart and intentions. These attributes are not easy to show or practice on a daily basis. Everyday we see so many examples of the lack of good will. But I can tell you, from personal experience that it does exist. Just when I thought human compassion was a thing of the past or that people in general were too busy too care, I was emphatically reminded otherwise.
My rude awakening happened December 28, 2000. I was living in Maryland with my 6 month pregnant wife and 6 year old daughter. It was our first Christmas together and the season was full of special joys. It was a typical East coast evening with temperatures in the low 30s and snow showers. At about 7 pm, we decided to have a delicious seafood dinner at the local Red Lobster. After returning home and putting our daughter to bed, we were taking a warm shower when I heard pounding at our front door. My wife and I exchanged puzzled looks: who could be knocking on our door at 10 pm? As I peered through our bedroom window, I saw several men with extremely concerned looks on their faces. They were yelling “FIRE, FIRE, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!” At the same time, my wife had gone to the baby’s nursery and as she pulled the blinds open, she saw a huge burst of flames. By this time, I have grabbed our daughter, keeping her wrapped up in her comforter, while telling my wife to get out of the house and get in the car. My wife was still in shock from the flames she’d seen. After hours of confusion and chaos, we discovered our neighbor’s house had caught fire and since we lived in townhouses, the fire quickly spread to our house. We lost the majority of our belongings.
At this point, we start seeing the goodness in people. Immediately, we were placed in military hotels. The Red Cross helped with food vouchers, bare necessities and clothing. My wife’s co-workers collected money and items to help us in starting over. My co-workers also made collections of various items. When we finally, returned to work, people would approach me in the hallways and ask “Are you Sergeant Cruz?” After my acknowledgement, they would write me a check, offer furnishings or anything to help. Being that this happened during the holiday season, our daughter had lost all her new toys that Santa had brought her. The US Marines took some toys left over from that year’s Toys for Tots drive.
Throughout all of this, my wife and I went through a series of change. Our first feeling was of fear, which then turned into gratefulness that no one was hurt, but sad that we had lost everything. That quickly changed as we started seeing the good nature in human beings, especially from strangers. We were living in an area where people are too busy to say Hi, always looking for ways to avoid interaction and living in the daily grind of their lives. But yet, they took time from their lives to help out. The outpour was genuinely sincere and heartfelt.
The overwhelming support we received was incredible and secured my belief in mankind. I still see the face of the gentlemen knocking on my door, braving the cold weather with only one concern-the safety of other human beings. It put many things into perspective but overall it drives me to help others in need. I have taken those lessons learned and apply them daily, from small things to adopting a child.
What do I believe in? I believe in mankind and its goodwill.
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