People Who Need People

We see it in their cloudy bloodshot eyes as they stand in the midst of the rubble that used to be their homes, shops, and schools. A thief has come in the night and stolen all objects that connect them to their past. This devastation now overwhelming their futures. They can’t expect much assistance from insurance, since to insurance companies, tornados and floods are Acts of God, not covered unless you’ve purchased special riders, unavailable in some parts of the county.

How to start? Where to begin?  Friends and family comfort one anther as they rummage through the ruins to salvage former treasures; a child’s favorite blanket, grandmother’s dented silver candlestick, a graduation picture now unframed. An elder hugs a grandchild, another sits expressionless, staring into the pit of what was once a home.

But scores of people from nearby neighborhoods and towns have started to arrive, descending on this community in trucks carrying tools and gear to help haul away debris. A retired schoolteacher lifts a fallen tree trunk from what’s left of a roof. A church lady proudly produces a chain saw, starts its buzzing motor, and creates small pieces, manageable enough to load

Photojournalists and newscasters from the major cities arrive and report on another Act of God that is occurring in the midst of this meltdown. They ask the strangers why they’ve come? “Someday we might need this help,” they say. “How do you feel about all these people you don’t know coming to help you.” A man tries to answer the question, but shakes his head in bewilderment, unable to find his voice through his tears.

These pictures, broadcast across the globe, and the interviews with the helpers and the helped confirm what Barbara Streisand suggested years ago in a song, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

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