Kindness Amidst Chaos

Tebow

There were two news stories yesterday about air travel. One was about the terrorist attack at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey. The other was about a man who had a heart attack during a flight he was taking with his wife and her friend. Which one would you guess had the most emotional impact on me?

It was the one about the man who had the heart attack.

The reason is that the man’s fellow passengers on the plane tried to help him. In particular, the former football player, now sports broadcaster, Tim Tebow, left his seat in business class and came to the man’s aid. He led prayers for the man along with other passengers around him while the man’s wife and her friend cried on his shoulders, picked up the family’s luggage when the plane landed and went with them to the hospital, staying until the family was told that the man had passed away.

You might think that it’s insensitive to not have a more emotional reaction to the terrorist attack. In fact, I thought that to myself after reading both stories. I think the reason the Tebow story impacted me more is because the terrorist attacks have become routine and have numbed my senses. Also, because there are so few positive stories that make the news. Indeed, I wonder if this story would have made the news were it not for the fact that a celebrity was involved. I suspect that there are many such occurrences every day that go unreported because the people engaging in such acts of kindness are regular, ordinary people, doing the right thing in obscurity.

That’s a shame, because I think that reading about acts of kindness promotes that type of behavior, just as the terrorists think that media coverage of their doings recruits some people to that type of behavior.

I wish the media would run a story about an act of kindness every day, not just when it involves a famous person. Maybe doing that would balance out the negative stuff and encourage the type of behavior the world desperately needs right now.

My thoughts, prayers, and condolences to all affected by the attack in Turkey.

Pride

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A reader of my blog asked why I haven’t been posting lately. He said that he missed my posts and encouraged me to start posting again.

The reason I haven’t been posting is because I had decided to avoid posting about negative stuff, under the theory that there is enough negative stuff out there and who needs the clutter? The problem is that there isn’t enough positive stuff to keep a steady stream of posts going. A case in point is the horrible terrorist attack in Orlando today that killed 50 people, making it the worst mass shooting in our country’s history.

So, the reason I’m posting about this, even though it is obviously negative stuff, is because I think there may be a positive aspect to it. I’m going to share three thoughts about this incident, ending with the observation that may be seen as a silver lining amidst unfathomable tragedy.

My first observation is that my daughter is now 14 years old, and she has never experienced a day of her life when our country has not been at war with the forces of terrorism. Having no basis for comparison, she is mostly unaware of the daily indignities we’ve come to accept as “normal,” whether it’s the security checkpoints, the invasive governmental apparatus intended to keep us safe, or the sense that privacy has become a thing of the past. I don’t know whether this sorry state of affairs will ever reverse itself, but today’s events certainly portend a continuation of current trends in the foreseeable future.

Next, there has been interesting phraseology used by the media to “headline” the story, namely: The Worst Mass Shooting in American History. While that is a factual statement, to me, it misses the real story, which is that today we experienced the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 (in fairness, that was also mentioned by most media outlets). My suspicion is that this choice reflects a desire by some to have the narrative be about a shooting, along the lines of Sandy Hook or the Aurora theater massacre, and at the same time avoid a narrative that the war on terror is not going well. Sure enough, within three hours of the story breaking on CNN there were a couple of politicians who were interviewed and used the opportunity to talk about gun control. In my opinion, talking about gun control at that particular moment was unseemly, regardless of one’s views on the topic. To me, it smacked of political opportunism.

So, how can there possibly be a positive aspect to all this?

To the extent that vestiges of antagonism remain between the LGBT community in our country and some straight Americans, I believe this event erased that antagonism to a large degree, if not completely. The reason is that Americans view the victims of the attack as their fellow Americans, and the fact that they were enjoying themselves in a gay bar at the time of the attack shrinks to insignificance.

It’s Pride Month, so let’s take the opportunity to expand what Pride Month means, to include pride in the survivors who helped others in the direct aftermath, to the police community and first responders in Florida who saved a lot of lives today (thank goodness for a positive story about them; about time), and to Americans everywhere who looked at their fellow Americans suffering, and only saw that.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected. To those who didn’t survive, rest in peace.