Good news in gloomy times

Sad bad times sometimes bring forth heroes. They’re the mitigating silver lining. They’re what we focus on to avoid staring too hard at the greater despair.

Kim Hunter & David Niven, A Matter of Life and Death 1946

But they can be hard to spot, these heroes. You don’t notice them beforehand. What do they look like? Not like my idea of a hero – handsome, twirly moustache, flying jacket, gentle eyes combined with slightly cruel mouth – sorry, I’m thinking of David Niven in A Matter of Life and Death.

So for these gloomy times, here are two lots of real heroes. They don’t look a bit like David Niven.

1. Patricia Maisch – She reminds me of Hong Kong Phooey. His theme song asked:

Who is this super hero? … Is it Henry, the mild-mannered janitor? Could beeeee…

Is it Patricia, the 61-year-old woman queuing to ask a question? No doubt about it.  Jared Loughner shot dead six people –  John Roll, Dorwin Stoddard, Christina Taylor Green, Gabe Zimmerman, Dorothy Morris and  Phyllis Schneck. He seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrille Giffords – his target. Patricia – and some other guys – stopped him shooting more. Here’s how she tells it:

Somebody said ‘get the gun’, and I was already up on my knees and over his waist. The gun was out of my reach, but he was reaching into his pocket with his left hand and pulling out a magazine, which fell on the sidewalk.

I managed to get the magazine before he could get it. I got it secure in my hand.

She then knelt on the Loughner’s legs to help hold him down. While doing so, she noticed that one of the men also helping restrain the gunman was bleeding from a head wound.

So I asked another gentleman to sit on the knees while I went to the store. They gave me some towels. I made a compress and held it on his head until the police came and secured the shooter.
Don’t mess with 61-year-old ladies standing quietly in a queue. Especially heroic ones. How will you recognise them? That’s just it. You can’t. And maybe neither can they recognise themselves till the moment comes.
2. The Egyptian Muslims who used their bodies as human shields to protect their Christian neighbours as they attended church services. This after a New Year bomb attack on a church which killed 23 people and injured many more. I don’t know all their names, but here are some pictures from the Veterans Today blog. And some quotes from Ahram Online:
First quote comes from Coptic priest Fr Rafaeil Sarwat of the Mar-Mina church, commenting on the widespread call by Muslim intellectuals and activists upon Egyptian Muslims at large to flock to Coptic churches across the country to attend Christmas Eve mass, to show solidarity with the nation’s Coptic minority, but also to serve as human shields against possible attacks by Islamist militants.
Although 2011 started tragically, I feel it will be a year of eagerly anticipated change, where Egyptians will stand against sectarianism and unite as one.
Next quote from Mariam Yassin, taking a day off work to attend mass at the church where her friend, Mariam Fekry, was killed along with her mother, sister and aunt in a bomb attack. I like Mariam’s style.

I am not going as a representative of any religion. I am supporting all those who died as a result of ignorance. I feel great sympathy for her [a friend’s] family’s loss, yet I don’t feel that as a Muslim I should apologize on the behalf of murderers.

And one more from Fatima Mostafa, joining Copts for the day to show that Muslims feel their sorrow.

I want to show the world that Islam is a religion of peace and that such attacks are nothing more than a result of poverty, ignorance and oppression.

Last pic below – Muslim human shield volunteers raise the Koran and Bible together.

Good going all you heroes – I salute you.



Filed under life

15 responses to “Good news in gloomy times

  1. Thanks for providing some hope. A few drops anyway.

  2. totally agree; blessings and hugs

  3. yes, the world has many heroes still…’s just hard sometimes to see them in the Rush.

  4. Thank you. It’s been rather depressing here since the shootings in Tucson. It’s easy to get lost in the news reports, and partisan rhetoric already streaming forth. This puts events such as the bombing in Egypt, and the shooting in Arizona, in a much better context. There are good people, good heroes, everywhere.

  5. Barbara

    Thanks for sharing these heartwarming stories. Reading them reaffirms my belief that the vast majority people mean well, and that most of us will behave heroically when the need arises. Hatred, intolerance and violence get a lot of media attention, but I don’t believe that portrays the reality of how most human beings conduct themselves.

  6. Such a shame that media focuses so often on the bad news stories. Probably because good news doesn’t sell but it would be nice to have a bit more of it.

  7. Thanks for these positive stories. There is the old intellectual cliche that humanity is perennially warlike, evidenced by the endless tide of wars that scourge every age. But I’ve always found this uncomfortable and am inclined to think, especially in light of what you’ve reported here, that it is rather that women, men and children in all ages have had war visited upon them by a minority. A very different thing.


    • blackwatertown

      I like the sound of that.
      Well, apart from the endless tide of wars and that indefatigable minority.
      I hereby sign up to your philosophy.

  8. Within us all lies a fiend or a hero; it is up to us which shall rise to the surface

  9. Absolutely correct. I love the part about Patricia Maisch. Had not heard that piece.

  10. Excellent article Paul. I was a bit of a misanthrope in my teens (weren’t we all?), but as I’ve gotten older I’ve left that worldview behind me. We are not an inherently evil or uncaring species, and the evidence for that is there to see. It’s there in the form of the heroic acts you describe above, or the resistance of the most soldiers in combat to take the lives of enemy combatants. And it’s in the small acts of kindness and courtesy that we experience every day. This is what defines the majority of humanity, and I’d like to think it always has. This isn’t wishful thinking on my part either, there is some scientific support for this. I remember watching a documentary a few years back which mentioned the discovery of a fossil of a primitive human species. I think it was a female Homo habilis, but I might be wrong about that. What I do remember is that her skeleton revealed she was afflicted by debilitating illness (I can’t recall what it was exactly) that should have left her unable to fend for herself or find food, yet she’d lived to a ripe old age. This was cited by palaeontologists as clear evidence that her kin were caring and providing for her. I like to think it was that characteristic, that empathy and solidarity, that led to our eventual success, and will allow us to conquer that misguided minority that sees violence as the answer.

  11. effam

    It’s good to know this. Thanks for investigating.
    It wasn’t what I was expecting.

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