By Susan Govern
Sunday, November 5, 2017, approximately 6:05 p.m. (or a little later) – it was dark because of the time change. The lights began to flicker and dim as the wind began to howl, then the power went out completely and everything went dark.
This isn’t a different take on the old “It was a dark and stormy night” beginning to a mystery story – this is a retelling of reality.
Sunday night things changed drastically across northeast Ohio and into western Pennsylvania. Around this part of the state at least eight communities that neighbor each other saw damage that tore apart trees and in some cases, severely damaged homes.
Just about anyone reading this essay lived through that evening and the days since. You know what it was like and you’ve seen the destruction. Thousands of us have been greatly inconvenienced (and for those who had their homes badly damaged, that is an understatement).
There was the hardship of tree debris to clean up and finding a warm place to stay and where to get a hot meal – and through all the bad a light began to shine, a light called “kindness”.
I’ve been hearing stories from family, friends, experienced it myself and seen on the news about how practically from the moment the wind stopped howling Sunday night – kindness emerged from behind closed doors and out of basements where people had taken shelter.
Mr. Rogers has often been quoted as saying that when bad things happen, look for the helpers. Well they came out in great numbers.
Neighbors checked on neighbors, people used the last of the power on dying cell phones and laptops to reach out to family and friends living around the areas hit. Offers went out from people having power to those who didn’t for them to come and stay where it was warm and to get a hot meal.
I heard of hotels and restaurants that had power opening up to give discounted or even free accommodations and meals to those in need.
Our First Responders – Police, Fire, Volunteers and Electric Workers – worked around the clock for days to be sure communities were secure and would soon get back to a sense of normalcy.
The sound of chain saws could be heard on almost every street as neighbors came out to clear away not only their own fallen trees, but those of their neighbors…sometimes going to the neighbor’s property first.
Yes indeed…the helpers were out in full force all over!
BUT the helpers – the acts of kindness haven’t just been visible here because of our storm – take a look back at almost every natural or man-made tragedy that has happened this year, last year, ten years ago…look at 9/11 or go back even more years…dozens and dozens of years and you can find that in bad times you will find good people.
Some of the good people showed great heroism by throwing their own body across someone else during one of the many mass shootings we’ve experienced in this country. See more of the good people in those who helped victims of bombings or those who were run down by a terrorist in a truck.
Look at the brave and good people who go into dangerous situations (police and fire) as others are running out and away to safety. Think about the fire-fighters who battle the wildfires that happen so often out west.
When a tornado or hurricane hits, you can go for days reading stories on the internet, in newspapers and seeing it on the television news about people reaching out to each other to do good.
Just recently I read a story about people affected by the hurricane in Puerto Rico. They have been without much of the basics still in many parts of the island but in all that bad, the good comes out in people. A family who is better off than their neighbors and has a huge house that was barely damaged opened their home to their neighbors who basically have nowhere else to go. They are all living together.
In another neighborhood the people come together to share common meals. Each family does what they can to obtain something – food, fuel, water – whatever and they manage to cook one big meal for everyone to share so no one has to go without.
Look at the helpers – look for the good people! We have been such a divided country on so many levels, but when we really need to be there for each other then all the differences just fade away. And that’s the way it should be ALL the time.
We are all HUMAN…we are all part of the human race. When a tragedy happens, whether it’s man-made or nature’s fury, destruction of lives and property doesn’t recognize race, sex, religion, politics or gender. The helpers, the good people, when they reach out to help don’t stop to ask about race, sex, religion, politics or gender – they just do what needs to be done for their fellow HUMAN BEINGS.
I’ve seen the good come out in people many times during many tragedies and those acts of kindness make me proud to be part of the human race.
Lets all try to take a lesson from the storm that blew through our neighborhoods this past Sunday…lets let our differences be gone with those winds. The good and the kindness that was left after the storm…lets see if we can’t make that last for more than the days or weeks it takes to clean up the debris.