There are many who were glad to put this year to bed last night. Among them are families trying to survive, businesses hoping to keep the doors open and soldiers struggling to adjust from the battlefield to normal life.
All of us hoped to wake up this morning in a happier, kinder world. A place where there is a job for everyone who wants one. A nation where the people we elect actually care about us, not party politics or pleasing the money people. A world ruled by rational leaders who understand the precarious nature of our planet’s environment and the principles of peaceful cohabitation.
But here we are in the same old world as yesterday, still looking for someone to rescue us. Will it take a superhero to finally understand the human tragedies unfolding every day and begin to work tirelessly, day and night, to end the suffering?
I remember reading an interview with Dr. Jonas Salk, who in 1955 discovered a serum to defeat polio. The disease was rampant, crippling tens of thousands, and shrouding the United States in fear. For a time, no one thought a cure would ever be found.
Dr. Salk was asked what kept him going, what kept driving him to find a vaccine. He said, “The fear. The fear! You never lost sight of the human side of what you were doing. You were driven on by the knowledge that there was human misery, and that you could use your knowledge to help eliminate it.”
The fear today is not that we think our nation’s problems are incurable, but that those with the power to fix them have lost compassion for people. We fear they know full well the human toll being taken, but do not care. We fear they answer to more seductive forces than Dr. Salk.
We fear that people all around us, who have been blessed with more luxuries than 90 percent of the world’s population, also do not care.
But we can be encouraged by stories such as the one about the Los Angeles man who learned his 3-year-old grandson in Denver had been stabbed by his daughter’s live-in boyfriend, and his daughter had to decide to take him off life support. He was frantic to be there with her. But the delays at baggage check and the long lines at airport security guaranteed he would miss his flight.
He pleaded without success to TSA and ticketing agents to fast-track him, even after telling his tale. He finally ran through the airport in his socks only to find the pilot calmly waiting for him at the gate.
“Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we’re so sorry about the loss of your grandson,” the pilot is reported to have said. “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”
The pilot risked the wrath of other passengers, and his employers, by making the decision to wait. He understood the importance of this one man’s mission ran deeper than an on-time departure.
So, maybe that’s it. We should stop looking for a hero, and look to each other. When the better world comes, maybe it will be ordinary people who bring it. Perhaps when the collective will embraces the natural human inclination to take care of each other, we will finally get leaders that, like Salk, are individually driven to put an end to human suffering above all else.
If you haven’t already put your 2012 calendar in place, check out the cool offering from the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, in conjunction with Obee Credit Union. It includes many fun historical pictures of Olympia beer being featured in movies and held by celebrities. ... It’s not too early for golf. The Washington Center is hosting the Big Minio Golf Classic, a putt-putt course around the theatre on Jan. 27-28. ... The A Really Big Shoe fundraising concert put on by a group of 76 seniors, called Entertainment Explosion, needs your support. The money they raise – more than $100,000 in five years – is distributed to homeless and needy children funds in the eight local school districts. They need to sell all 982 tickets for their Sunday, Feb. 26 concert. ... You can also benefit SafePlace and Bread & Roses Guest House by attending the Olympia Community Bluegrass Music Show at 6.30 p.m., South Sound Manor in Tumwater, on Jan. 13.
George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.