It’s been a tough couple of weeks if you have a soul and have been watching the news. Doesn’t it seem like every story these days is about someone who left their kid in a car? The story out of Georgia that seemed to start this all (at least this year) is incredibly disturbing. That anyone could purposefully hurt a little child is, in my humble opinion, the most heinous thing possible. Although I have nightmares about the episodes of Oz I watched years ago, it gives me hope that there is some chance animals like the guy who left his baby to die in a car will receive rough justice in prison. Sadly, it doesn’t sound like that poor baby’s mother was any better of a human being.
Anyways, instead of focusing on people who should be taking care of other people – specifically, parents who choose to bring a child into the world and then choose to raise that child – but don’t, I thought it might be a better idea to think about people who help others out despite having no direct responsibility to do so. We could all use some warm, fuzzy thoughts to reaffirm our faith in humanity, right?
I’ve got two stories of my own. When I was a sophomore in college, three thousand miles from home, I was in a terrible car accident. I was thrown from the vehicle I was in and landed on the pavement of a busy intersection in front of my off-campus apartment building in Los Angeles. I think I wobbled over to the curb and sat down. I was bleeding from everywhere, and I’m sure I was freaking the f**k out. A woman sat down next to me and put her arm around me, trying to calm me down. She sent her son, who was probably no more than 10 years old, to the Wendy’s down the block to get napkins. After the incident, we learned that a lot of our friends actually bypassed the scene not wanting to see what happened or get involved (and certainly not knowing it was us). I am extraordinarily thankful to that woman, who could have just kept walking, and who certainly did not need to send her young son by himself to walk to a fast food place down the street, for helping me through the most difficulty incident in my life.
A couple years later, during my senior year in college, I had the great fortune to see the documentary “Weapons of the Spirit” by Pierre Sauvage, who also visited our class. He told an incredible story about a small Protestant village in south-central France, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose residents harbored 5,000 Jews during World War II, risking their lives as France was then collaborating with the Nazis. From chambon.org: “The responsibility of Christians,” their pastor, André Trocmé, had reminded them the day after France surrendered to Nazi Germany, “is to resist the violence that will be brought to bear on their consciences through the weapons of the spirit.” This was a personal story for the filmmaker, who was born in and protected by Le Chambon in March 1944. Decades later, he interviewed some of the residents. Put very simply, they could not understand why anyone would make a fuss about what they did. It is an amazing story about the human spirit, but this particular documentary also highlights the sheer simplicity by which these extremely brave people acted. The public school director, who told authorities there were no Jews in his school, later commented, “It was the human thing to do, or something like that.” If you have the opportunity to see this film, I highly recommend it.
So that’s what I’ve got – a couple vignettes to show that there are decent human beings in the world. And kittens! There are also cute kittens!