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Look for the Helpers

I am a misanthrope. It’s really easy to beat around the bush and prevaricate a little, but at the end of the day, I generally neither like nor trust people. Honestly, at the end of the day, I think if a person has the chance to screw you, they will, and not think twice about it.

I’m sure this isn’t really a surprise to those of you who have been reading this blog for a while. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed of it. It just is what it is, and time will tell if I can figure out how to get past it.

I am not really a person of faith, either. I am nominally a Christian, but practically that means little to me. I have quite a few things against God, and I feel he has a lot to answer for. As I have mentioned, I am not an atheist because I have interacted with God, not because I like him.

This particular worldview makes disasters challenging.

So you may have heard that a little more than a week ago. There was a partial building collapse in Florida. The death toll is presumed to be high, and not everyone died quickly.

Many thoughts went through my head at this. My first thought was to wonder where God was in all of this. Then I realized that while God can be blamed for many things, this was a disaster of our own making. We don’t exactly know what the root causes were yet, but we built the building, we decided to live in it, someone screwed up somewhere, and, well, that’s on us. I can’t blame God for that.

I do blame God, though, for creating a world where this is possible. Death is, even if indirectly, his creation, and the fact that we can die at all is on him. So, we screwed up, God screwed up, there’s plenty of blame and recrimination to go around.

But then I realized that the fact that so many people are dead is in spite of the efforts of the first responders. They did their best, and couldn’t make it happen. But they tried. They were people who an towards the rubble and tried their best to remove the human suffering. That they failed makes them human, but they didn’t run away, they didn’t cause the problem, they ran towards the problem and tried to make it better.

This is what most of our first responders do. Police, fire, EMT, doctors, etc. There are some bad apples, but in general, they exist to make things better.

Fred Rogers, a famous and now deceased Presbyterian pastor and children’s show host, said “look for the helpers”. Look for those who run towards the suffering, and not away from it. Look for the people who try to fix the problems that other people cause. Look for the people who hate death and suffering so much that they’re going to fight it with everything they have, or die trying.

I am not one of those people. I’m jaded. I’ve already given up on most people, a long time ago. But it is a small mercy from God that these people exist. He still has a lot to answer for, but that it also a heart that he gave some people, and is a small glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak and dying world.

Look for the helpers.

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