They Ran Into the Fire

Two weekends ago we were in Pennsylvania for Robert's grandmother's 90th birthday party. It was a wonderful weekend of activities that included a buffet lunch on Sunday after church in the fellowship hall. During the lunch we sat with my mother-in-law's cousin, who was a police officer for many years before he retired. He now investigates crime scenes, if I remember correctly.

We were talking about their recent vacation to France when we heard someone call out "Fire! Fire!" The sterno underneath the steam tables had ignited some paper wrappings nearby.

Many people jumped up to help. But nobody moved faster than cousin Will.

After the fire was out and people were settled back into their lunches, we all joked about his superb reflexes and the impulse to be the first into the fray, even during a luncheon for a 90-year-old. I'm sure it's the training.

Thought about him again today when I saw this:

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Hug a first responder today. If you don't have one handy, anyone else will do.

And as a second responder, I agree with Patton Oswalt. For me it's a theological affirmation:

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

title comes from the West Wing episode Twenty Hours in America