Monday, April 21, 2014

The Helpers


Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers Neighborhood fame, told of advice given him by his mother. He had been witness to a traumatic event. His mother, seeing him shaken, told him that one should always look for “the helpers”. In any dire situation, there will be people willing to help, to give aid, to their fellow humans. She said that one might gain solace from knowing that they are always around, ready to act selflessly. She was right.

In 1994, a truck drove into the Fort Point Channel in South Boston. My friend John, out for an early morning jog, saw this happen. With no consideration for his own safety, John dove into the water from the bridge he was on to make a rescue.

On another occasion, I was a part of John's rescue effort. We had attended mass with our wives. We were strolling back to our cars, in the parking lot adjacent to the church, when we saw smoke pouring from under the hood of a pick-up truck. A man in the driver's seat was unaware of the fire. John ran to the truck. I followed. John alerted the driver and then threw open the hood. Luckily, it was winter, so John and I piled snow onto the engine until the fire was out.

(I hasten to add John was much more the hero than I. Had I been alone, I don't know if I would have rushed toward an imminent explosion. I was sort of sucked into John's wake.)

You may recall, some years back, a plane going down in a river near Washington, DC. People dove into the water, swam out to the wreckage, and pulled passengers to safety. Not too long ago, there was the story of a man falling onto subway tracks in New York City. A complete stranger jumped into the pit as a train bore down on both men. The stranger pulled the man into a groove between the tracks and shielded his body with his own as the train passed over them safely.

We need only look to last year's bombing of the Boston Marathon to see one of the greatest instances of “the helpers” doing what they do. The most famous may be Carlos Arredondo, easily discernible in his cowboy hat while rescuing Jeff Bauman, but there were many others who rushed toward danger rather than away from it. They are always around, someplace, seemingly just waiting for a call to action.

Fred Rogers' mother suggested that solace may be taken from their presence. That's a good idea, but I think we can do better. I'd like to suggest that anyone who feels inconvenienced today by a random search, or perhaps a delay in getting to a destination, consider that the person conducting the search, or delaying them slightly, may have been one of “the helpers” last year, or may in fact be one in waiting. Instead of focusing on the inconvenience, it might be nice to say thank you in advance. And then to say a prayer of thanks if it turns out – as is hoped - that “the helpers” aren't needed this time around.


14 comments:

Suza said...

Amen for the helpers. I hope all goes well today.

sandyland said...

excellent window Jim we often think only of the other side

Pat - Arkansas said...

Wonderful post, Jim. Ever wonder why some folk are in the right place at the right time? I truly believe God sends them there.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

I saw a quote just this morning:
"My need lay along spiritual lines, part of which consisted in helping others -- something startlingly new to me."

Tabor said...

Like you I am not sure that I would be an automatic hero. Of course, if it was a child or young person, I would probably jump into without thinking. I am married to some who has saved two people from drowning in his long life.

Daryl said...

amen to that!

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

So true Jim. And thank you for the kind comments on my post. I have been grateful for emotional helpers in the past 12 months of turmoil!

Hilary said...

Fred Rogers' mother was a wise and observant woman.

Eddie Bluelights said...

A lot of brave people about and as you say they sometimes appear almost out of thin air to do a rescue mission.
I sometimes ask myself if I would be that brave to do some of the things you describe.

Michelle H. said...

Enjoyed this post, as always!

messymimi said...

Look for them, thank them, and be one -- great things to do!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great examples of "The Helpers" Boston certainly had their helpers last year and New York City had their helpers way back when and you give some great examples.

Here in Oklahoma we had our own helpers back in 1995 or so when a coward set off a bomb in downtown Oklahoma City. What many people don't know is that the bomb damaged more buildings than the Murrah building. A nursery in a nearby YMCA had a bunch of injured children from the shards of glass that blew in from the blast. A friend of mine helped evacuate the children from the building. You, I, and your readers know other helpers I'm sure.

Juli said...

I think, if we all look hard enough, will find helpers everyday doing everyday things. The teachers that notice a child forgot their lunch money or needs extra help, or the people that notice a lone child and ensure that they find their parents in the grocery store.

Thing is, people will usually rise to the calling when the need is great (and public) but it's the real everyday helpers that avoid the daily tragedy of everyday life. :)

lime said...

well said. and we agree on mr rogers sagacity, as you know. ;)