Selflessness Moves the World Forward
Altruism is a fresh breath of air in today’s world. We are all painfully aware of the seams that have been ripped open in Charlottesville, Houston, and throughout the entire state of Florida. These tears are both manmade and natural disasters. Nearby, in Mexico, record-setting earthquakes and tsunamis also created more angst for the region.
And, as September 11 always reminds us, we grow as a nation every time we go through dark times. Each time we are able to rewrite the negative narrative with positive acts of selflessness. And each time opportunities abound in how we can suture up the wounds with healing actions and words.
As a business owner, I am involved with a county-wide project as the selected Erie County Poet Laureate called “Picture This”. At Monday’s ceremony, Remembering 9/11, I was asked to write and read a poem. I chose to create one from the Fred Roger’s quotation on how altruism helps children in times of crisis. His quote speaks about the wise words his mother would say to him when he saw disasters play out on the television: ” Look for the helpers.” Below is the poem I wrote for the occasion. May we all realize that in times of crisis that the helpers are as close as our own two hands.
When I was a child and saw scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Fred Rogers
When the sky filled with fire and the towers fell,
first responders poured into the fray.
Dug and dug and dug to find survivors.
Some served bottled water and pizza.
Others respectfully draped coats on the dead.
When the wind howled and the ocean rose,
volunteers stacked sandbags, hammered
plywood sheets over window panes.
Some gave their generators away.
Others gave up airplane seats for the elderly.
When the earth shook and cracked wide open,
rescuers pulled people from the rubble,
got them to stand single file, avoiding
downed pour lines. Held them close, closer
as they trembled in their own aftershocks.
Helpers can be found, quietly mending
that which has been torn, gaping at the seam.
They offer personal hygiene kits to homeless teens,
hand out stuffed animals to displaced children.
Listen, carefully, on the other end of a suicide hotline.
When the fire ate up the sky as the towers fell,
when the wind howled and the oceans rose,
when the earth shook and cracked wide open,
helpers were found quietly suturing the world
one stitch, one sandbag, one brick, one kind act at a time.
Erie County Poet Laureate, September 11, 2017
Written for the Remembering 9/11 Ceremony
Blasco Library of Erie County, Pennsylvania