Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More Horror, More Heroes

This has been a rough couple of weeks in America. Bombings in Boston, a massive explosion in West, Texas, and now a devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. And as horrific and horrible as each of these tragedies have been, the heroism and compassion of people has shone through, like a beam of sunlight shooting through the darkest of clouds and making things bright again.

In Boston we saw Police, Fire, EMS, BAA volunteers, Soldiers, and runners clearing debris, and caring for victims, and running to hospitals to give blood.

In West we saw First Responders willingly go into a blazing inferno to try to save the lives of strangers.

And now in Moore we see teachers using their bodies to shield children. We see cops and firefighters from across Oklahoma carefully sifting through rubble. We see busloads of police from Texas pouring into Moore to help out. We see donations of food, clothing, money, shelter. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder pledged to donate $1 million to the Red Cross. The Thunder also pledged $1 million. The University of Oklahoma in nearby Norman opened its dorms to displaced survivors.

Each of these disasters have had traumatic and striking effects on the human psyche. A terrorist attack, a chemical explosion in a factory, a natural disaster. Each has people asking "why," without any satisfactory answer apparent.

One thing that is apparent is how strong and indomitable human beings are. Humans are capable of unbelievable courage in the face of danger and death. Humans are capable of immeasurable compassion even when it's complete strangers who are suffering. Humans are capable of sacrificing themselves to save other humans.

"Good job, teach."

When I was in film school I wrote a screenplay about the end of the world. The theme of my script was that greedy and selfish people took advantage of disaster and disease, and they were the ones who brought about the end of the world. And while the rare good people were taken away to a safe paradise, the bad people conquered a cruel world that wasn't worth living in. I wrote this before I had much faith in humanity.

I was wrong. Extremely wrong. In my script, people behaved like animals when faced with adversity. And I've seen so much in these last few weeks that disproves that concept. People are at their absolute best when things are at their absolute worst. People care.

There's a reason we were able to evolve into the dominant species on this planet. Our brains were a big help. But I think what gave us the decisive edge was our ability to lift each other up off the ground when something knocked us down. Our perseverance, coupled with the compulsion to help others, is what makes this species great.

I'm proud to be a part of it.

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