Unexpected catastrophes are debilitating in that society (yup, that's you and me) is suddenly thrust into a frenzy with our deepest anxieties and fears being realized, even if they are realized somewhere else. "If it could happen to them, it could happen to me." Once I remove the top layers of shock, compassion, and empathy, truth be told, that is what I'm really left thinking. If you haven't quite figured it out yet, I have a clinical case of generalized anxiety; I know because I read the term in some medical book I was shelving in the library and I said "Oh my God! That's me!" Anyway.....more times than not my anxiety is perpetuated by this information age and then magnified one THOUSAND fold by my wild imagination which secretly collaborates with the over sized chip on my shoulder. To this day, and I swear it to you, every time I enter a fast food restaurant I scope out who might be a serial killer and under which table I would hide if the need arose; or would I pretend I was shot and then play dead? (think McDonald's shooting; August 11, 1993).
Oh sorry, I almost forgot, this is supposed to be about good news; which it is....stay with me.
My friend and I were discussing all this negativity and how it slowly consumes our lives, and she mentioned a quote which offered a great tool for seeing the positive in the most tragic of circumstances. I was salivating like a dog, "Tell me! Tell me!" I wanted to know the secret so I could share it with my readers; so I could draw on this quote in those -- "the world is a crappy place" moments.
And so, she simply said..."When tragedy strikes, look for the people who are helping."
Oh my God! That's it! So simple and yet so unbelievably profound. I don't know who the author was or whether or not I've quoted this verbatim, all I know is that it doesn't need qualification; it is a powerful enough tool in the face of adversity and fear to stand alone.
And so, today, I want to tell you THE GOOD NEWS. There are good people everywhere. Not just good people, GREAT people. I'm talking about heroes. Real live heroes. A year ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sully Sullenberger. If you don't know him by name, he is the amazing Captain who on January 15, 2009 landed his crashing jet onto the waters of the Hudson River. Freezing cold waters I might add. Brrrrrrrrrr. He saved all 155 people on board. Now Sully, being modest, doesn't consider himself a hero, and to reinforce what he feels was a lack of heroism (he was "only doing his job"), his beautiful wife reminds him that being a hero means running into the crashing plane to save lives, not already being on the plane. I have to disagree with both of them. He stayed on that plane, which could have easily flipped at any moment, walked the length of the plane, jumping from seat over seat to the very back to make absolutely sure he left no one behind; and then, if that wasn't enough, as all the passengers were standing on the wings and Sully was ice-cold soaked to the top of his thighs, he took off his own Captain's jacket and gave it to an elderly man who was shivering while waiting rescue. If that's not a hero, I don't know what is.
Well today, I have learned of more heroes surfacing in light of the Norway tragedy. Everyday people like you and me who ran into the massacre -- into the gunshots, to save the lives of youths. I am overwhelmed with emotion over the depth of character and conviction that these ordinary people must have held, to give them the courage to do something extraordinary. Take Hege Dalen and her spouse Toril Hansen; two women having dinner on the opposite shores from the campsite. They heard the shooting, they heard the awful screaming. Hege and Toril didn't run, they didn't hide, they didn't sit and continue eating; these amazingly brave women took action. The jumped from their meal, pushed the nearest boat into the lake, driving it toward the massacre where the shooting was occurring, and began pulling victims from the water. They filled the boat up with the young and the wounded, the shocked, and the scared and made not one, not two, not three, but FOUR....let me repeat, FOUR trips to the island. During this time a bullet struck the side of their boat. These women, these heroes, saved the lives of FORTY children....children that could have been yours or mine.
Do you know what strikes me as the greatest aspect of all? Not once did these women ask first, before saving a life..."What is your political affiliation? What religion are you? What is your sexual orientation?" No, they didn't care....they just saved lives. This, is humanity at its finest.
Hege and Toril, thank you. You are the heroes I am watching for. I believe that somewhere deep inside, we all have it in us, but today, a toast to Hege and Toril. You are our good news.
Sweet dreams, and always, GOOD dreams.