The news is swarming with horrible stories about tragedies. We hear too often about shootings at community colleges or vehicles driving into crowds of people. These stories are heartbreaking. Those who witness these events also are impacted in profound ways. It is life altering to witness innocent lives suddenly changed by a senseless evil act.
While these tragedies are overwhelming, many stories of heroism also rise to the surface. Stories about young men and women who sacrifice their own safety to save the lives of people they never met, stand in stark contrast to the ugliness that caused the heroism in the first place. The heroes are celebrated by every person they positively impact, and they inspire others to step forward when most will run the other way.
These are powerful stories of sacrifice and surrender that should never be ignored or forgotten. It is these types of heroes who remind us that even in the face of horrific situations, humanity still wins.
However, we often don’t realize that there are many “unsung” heroes in these moments. These are the people who sat and simply held a horrified young lady while she tried to come to terms with what had happened. These are the bystanders who shared their cell phones with someone who needed to let their mom know they were okay. The unsung heroes are the ones who offered rides home to a complete stranger because it was the only thing they could do in the wake of the horrific moment. The unsung heroes are people just like you and I who offer what we can in an attempt to help. We don’t all have combat training that would allow us to know how to overcome a gunman, but most of us can go a little out of our way to silently hug someone for a few minutes.
Maybe the tragedies that surround you and I are not news worthy events. Perhaps the most shocking event you’ve experienced is a friend who just learned about a cheating spouse or you witnessed a minor fender bender on your way to work. These every day events are tragedies for the lives of those involved and each person experiencing these moments needs an “unsung” hero to step in and help.
It is easy to find ourselves completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need when looking at something like domestic violence or homelessness. When we hear about these terrible events, empathy moves our hearts for a brief moment, and we might offer a few dollars to ease the suffering that we hear about or volunteer our time in honor of our own struggle with similar experiences.
As one person, I might be only able to provide a few dollars and it is easy to see that what I have to offer is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the expanse of the need. Often, when faced with overwhelming trauma we find it easier to pretend there isn’t really a problem at all or we hope “someone” will do something to help “those” poor people.
So, maybe what we can offer to help isn’t going to be enough to ease every ounce of the suffering for everyone involved, but it is probably enough to make a positive difference in one person’s life. Even a well-timed hug holds a powerful message of hope for someone who is hurting.
Don’t hesitate to do what you can, even when it doesn’t feel like enough. Doing “something” is what unsung heroes do every day, and it is the unsung heroes in our lives that make the tragedies we encounter survivable.
For information, visit judygailsplace.org.