GratiTuesday: Those who rush towards

I don’t know if we’ve had more disasters – both natural and made-made – this year or not, but it certainly feels like it. Wildfires have eaten up acres of beauty and hundreds of homes and businesses, hurricanes and storm surges have created destructive winds and deadly floods, and the sudden shifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates have toppled buildings and collapsed bridges. Then, there are the disasters created by the mentally ill, the morally repugnant, and the fanatically delusional.

It can be difficult to feel gratitude in the face of all of this. I don’t live in a hurricane zone, I haven’t been touched by a catastrophic wildfire, the earthquakes I’ve experienced have been mild and caused little damage, and I haven’t had a loved one’s life cut short by a bullet or a bomb, but I certainly don’t feel immune. Neither planning nor luck – and certainly not “thoughts and prayers” – will ensure my safety. Those who have recently been impacted likely once felt sorrow and empathy for past victims, and maybe some relief that they, and their families, were untouched.

As I’ve witnessed these disasters from afar and have worried about the fate of those affected, I see something over and over again that fills me with awe and appreciation: not just the first responders, but the everyday people who put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

Aftermath of the earthquake in Mexico City. Picture credit: Joe, Month at a Time Travel blog


I’m so very grateful for those who fight the flames and rescue others from the path of a wildfire. I am grateful for those who brave floodwaters to carry trapped homeowners to safety. I am grateful for those who climb on top of precarious rubble in a desperate attempt to locate and save those buried below. I am grateful for all who keep the peace, attend to the wounded, and comfort the frightened. I am grateful for those who rush towards danger while others are running away.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

58 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Those who rush towards”

  1. This post reminds me why I started following your blog almost two years ago — so thoughtful and reassuring.

  2. After experiencing the recent Mexico City earthquake, and witnessing the overwhelming volunteerism, I hope that I would not be afraid to run toward the danger, if I am ever faced with another emergency situation like that. Thank you, Janis, for your inspiring and grateful message.

    1. Thank you so much for letting me use your photo! Your first-hand account of the earthquake in Mexico was so powerful, and your description of the efforts of the volunteers (whose work is still ongoing) inspired me.

  3. I feel so similarly, and appreciate how beautifully you’ve expressed some powerful thoughts. It is so true that we’ve seen the worst and the very best in behaviors, and within what feels like a short span of time. I’ve been so moved by the stories of people who have found themselves in extraordinary circumstances and yet have had the presence of mind to think quickly and give aid to others. It’s so easy for me to slip into cynicism these days, and despite the horror of these recent events I’ve felt a little more hopeful. Beautifully written.

  4. The brave and dedicated men and women who run towards a disaster to help their fellow citizens certainly deserve your post recognition and more. I was watching the news this morning and heard about a homeowner who pulled a gun on two delivery men because their vehicle was leaking fluid on his driveway. It’s a strange and dangerous world we live in right now.

  5. Well said. With all the disasters, whether from Mother Nature or manmade, we need to focus more on what we have in common, which is our compassion for each other in times of struggle. Even when there is no disaster, people are coming to the aid and support of their fellow humans everyday. Thank you for shining a light on our humanity toward each other.

  6. Totally agree. What a wacko year this has been. The only light has been watching these people who help… instead of being reminded of the politicians who hinder.

  7. I’m so glad all is well in your corner of the world. I have a niece in Temecula, which I thought I read was/is affected by fires. But my Orange County sister tells me that everyone is okay. The tragedy up north in Napa, Sonoma, and particularly Santa Rosa is heartbreaking to see. Be safe! – Marty

    1. So far so good here. We’ve actually had a rather mild fall (we often get hot and windy weather in SoCal this time of year) but it’s supposed to change this weekend. I haven’t heard anything about a fire in Temecula, just further up north in Anaheim. My heart is breaking for the people who are in the impacted areas. I have friends who are currently waiting for evacuation notices.

  8. I also follow Joe’s blog, and was in awe of the reaction he reported to the earthquake. I like to think that I would hurry to help others in a tragedy, but honestly, we don’t really know until it happens to us. It is so scary and so sad. I have a friend who lives all too near to the fires in northern California, and I can’t help feeling anxious, and helpless.

    1. I hope your friends are ok. It is hard to know what we would do and, frankly, what would be appropriate and helpful. Right now all I can do is send money to organizations like the Red Cross, but there may be a need for more hands-on assistance as those impacted start to rebuild their lives. I can’t imagine what that would be like.

  9. Your eloquent words about the world right now are touching, and sad but true. After a while, we can become “comfortably numb” as Pink Floyd puts it to the constant barrage of tragedy all around us. The odds seem likely that we will be touched by the effects of a disaster, and I am beyond grateful for those who serve in EMS, volunteer organizations, and potentially put their lives on the line to save others.

    1. Comfortably numb and focused on the latest tragedy while forgetting those who are still suffering. I am grateful for those who are helping people rebuild their lives even as our attention moves elsewhere. It will be a long process.

  10. I’ve been away from reading WordPress for awhile – lots to catch-up on – and am glad to begin here, with your thoughtful, heartfelt post. Thanks – Susan (also safely away from our CA fires)

  11. Hi Susan, it’s good to “see” you again. Those of us who have lived in California for any length of time know that these wildfires can happen just about anywhere. And with our changing climate, I fear they will become more common and more destructive.

  12. Thank you! A much needed dash of perspective. Right now it really does seem like all hell is breaking loose; but there is a measure of comfort in knowing that most people will rise to their very best behavior in the worst of times.

  13. Hi Janis! Thank you for reminding me of something I need to remember every single day (if not every single moment!) Being grateful for all the good in my life and for the wonderful people in the world to help others when needed. Thank YOU! ~Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy! Welcome home! There are a lot of good people out there – more good than bad. Unfortunately sometimes it takes headline events to clearly see this. As another Kathy said in an earlier comment, “Even when there is no disaster, people are coming to the aid and support of their fellow humans every day.” These people deserve our recognition and gratitude.

  14. I too am unbelievably grateful for the first responders and other every day heroes. I am also grateful for those people I encounter on a daily basis who share a smile, a kind word, a helping hand. I do my best to be that person for others as well.

  15. The troubles in the world can appear overwhelming, especially when close to home, given that media stories emphasize disaster and destruction. Stories of disasters that in the past we would have heard about in a limited way after the fact are now delivered instantly from multiple sources with photos and detailed personal narratives. Your perspective of gratitude for the ordinary people who jump in and help offers a reminder of the basic human empathy and goodness that is revealed in times of crisis. Thanks for writing about this.


    1. Those ordinary people who ignore the danger to help their fellow citizens are amazing. Then, of course, there is often much work to be done after the danger is over, and the people who pitch in then are heroes too.

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