Look to the Best

I was a freshman in college when the twin towers fell.  I didn't know anyone in New York then, and I hadn't yet met my husband who has family throughout the boroughs and an uncle who worked at the WTC.  I watched news reports with my roommates, in shock like the rest of the world. My university didn't cancel classes that day or the next---the decision was left up to the individual professors.  Many professors called off their lessons, but not mine; the next morning found me taking my seat in my art history class.  Before she turned on the slide projector my professor stood for a moment and spoke briefly about her decision.

'Sometimes' she said 'After seeing the worst humanity can do, it's important to take time and look to the best we can do'.  And then she started class, launching into slides and a lecture about great painters and the masterpieces that still awe us centuries later.

I don't watch the news, it's a personal choice and the reasons are longer than I will get into here.  I prefer to seek out written reports and monitor my consumption.  But Monday evening I was feeling like most people---wondering Why, and so I turned on a national broadcast, searching for answers.  I watched for about 20 minutes---long enough to realize that no matter what was said, the television could likely never answer that question to my satisfaction.

As I turned off the television, I remembered those words from my professor, more than ten years ago.  I sat in my living room and listened to a record and the rain outside.  And I thought of the coverage I had seen, the videos I watched, the stories I read, the photos I saw.  The images and words that I kept circling back through.

Soldiers pulling down barricades to clear the way for medical help.

Medical staff prepared to treat muscle cramps and fatigue launching into action against injuries they could never have anticipated.

Police officers in florescent yellow vests running towards the smoke.

It's important to take a moment and look at the best humanity can do.

If you haven't already, I encourage you to read Roxanne's essay, Boston: Stories of Compassion and The Atlantic's post Stories of Kindness