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.
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.
58 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Those who rush towards”
What a beautiful tribute to unsung heroes!
I’d like to think that I would be that brave, but I’m not sure.
I’m with you 100% and you said this perfectly.
Thank you. The people who do this are amazing.
Well said, Janis! Xx
Thank you Liesbet. I hope the people whose place you took care of in Sebastopol are OK.
The fire is only 10 miles away, so pretty scary. They are packed and ready to evacuate if needed. Pretty awful!!
Thank you. I’m in tears watching what is happening up in Northern California. Fortunately, my family is safe.
It’s just so sad. Thinking of you
This post reminds me why I started following your blog almost two years ago — so thoughtful and reassuring.
What a sweet thing to say. Thank you.
So powerful! Thank you!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you Debra. I’ve been in a funk lately with all that is going on and wanted to seek out and acknowledge the good. I would hope that I could be as brave in a similar situation.
There is never enough to show how grateful we are. Words can’t express the appreciation but you did an excellent job.
Thank you. There a quite a few unsung heroes out there.
Firefighters are simply remarkable people. We went through a maelstrom like this in SoCal in 1997. Firefighters are people you can rely on.
I remember those fires (and the ones in 2003) well. We were not too close but many of our friends were. The firefighters were – and are – amazing.
It’s amazing, and wonderful, how many there are. I’m also grateful for brave people (and wonder how I would measure up).
I know, we’d all like to think we’d do well but who knows until we are faced with the situation head-on.
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.
Sometimes I think news items should come with a warning. Stories like yours make me worry for our society. Stories about those who help others despite the danger, give me hope.
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.
That is so true. Unfortunately, those stories often don’t make the headlines, but they are out there and worthy of our attention.
I am always amazed at what people do in a moment’s notice without any thinking. I only hope that I could be helpful if I was in that situation.
I’d like to think that too. The ones that take action without hesitation are true heroes.
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.
Wacko is exactly right (and also a good description of the politicians).
Well said. First responders never “take a knee.”
Thank you. Heroes come in many forms.
Janis, love following your blog, finally! You are such a good writer and I love and agree with your sentiments.
Hi Lynn! Thanks for following and for your lovely comment. I’m looking forward to hearing about your next adventure in Oaxaca.
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
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.
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.
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.
Amen! Well said, Janis. First Responders are very special people and deserve all the gratitude we can heap on them.
First responders – both those in an official capacity and the private citizens who step up with little thought to their own safety – are the best among us.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
I think that is true. We may not all run into a burning building, but many of us would open our homes and our wallets to help those who are suddenly without a home.
Well said Janis. These folks move mountains for people.
They are being asked to do so much for so many.
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
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.
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.
You are so right – it doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture… sometimes just a little acknowledgement and kindness will lift someone up for the rest of their day.
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.
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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