Finding The Good In A Disaster

Sergeant Schultz, the bumbling German sergeant in the comic TV series, “Hogan’s Heroes” said, “Out of every disaster, some good things come if you look for them.” In light of recent events in Boston, I have felt the urge to do a post on this topic. I am not trying to make light of this horrific disaster. Like you, I have been worried for the safety of my Boston friends. My heart and prayers go out to those that have been affected by this cowardly, inhumane event. I have seen the graphic photos of blood soaked sidewalks and videos of the explosion enveloping the finish line. This tragedy has rocked the nation. It will take us all time to recover from this event, especially those directly affected by it in the city of Boston. But out of wars, genocides, terrorist attacks, and disasters, there are incredible stories that are found. I feel that through disasters, the best is brought out in people. I have seen this already with the attack in Boston. I was amazed at how heroes jumped into action at the Boston marathon explosion. Watching a video, as smoke shot up into the sky, I watched policemen, soldiers, and even marathon runners race over to the scene of the explosion to help in anyway possible. They didn’t seem to care about their own personal safety, but of the well-being of those around them. That, in itself, is the good I have seen come from this disaster.

In tragedy it can be difficult to find the good resulting from an event that took the lives of many innocent people away. Here are twelve good deeds that emerged from some of the world’s deadliest disasters. If you would like to learn more about these incredible stories, just click on the link. At times when gallantry may seem nonexistent, do know that there are heroes all around you.

1. Boston Marathon Hero. Joe Andruzzi, an Ex-NFL player for the New England Patriots, was at the Boston Marathon when the explosion ripped through spectators at the finish line and decided not to stand by.

2. A Lifelong Friend. Ian Holbourn, an Oxford professor, was on the ship RMS Lusitania when it was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915 and helped save the life of a 12-year-old girl named Alvis Dolphin. She became his lifelong friend following the disaster.

3. A Savior In Nanking. During the Rape of Nanking in 1937, a German businessman named John Rabe helped save the lives of 200,000 Chinese civilians from horrible deaths at the hands of Japanese soldiers.

4. The Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo. Rather than find medical help for herself, Admira Ismić stayed with her boyfriend, Boško Brkić, after they had both been shot as they were trying to escape the war in Sarajevo, Bosnia, via the Vrbanja bridge.

5. An A+ Elementary School Teacher. Victoria Soto was a first grade elementary teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School when Adam Lanza began shooting and stopped him from claiming more victims.

Powerful interview with Vicki Soto’s best friend:

6. True Love. When a shooter began killing moviegoers at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, three boyfriends acted as human shields for their girlfriends.

Heroes from Aurora:

7. An Icy Swim. When Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the frozen Potomac River in 1982, Lenny Skutnik, seeing a female survivor struggling for life in the water, dove in and pulled her to shore, saving her life.

Go to 5:15 of this video link to see the rescue:

8. The Best Hotel Staff. When armed terrorists stormed the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India in 2008, the hotel staff showed just how much they valued their customers.

Brief video on tribute to hotel staff members:

9. Faith In Front of A Gun. Cassie Bernall was a student at Columbine High School when two gunman entered the school in 1999 and began murdering school faculty. When approached by them, they told Cassie that if she denied her faith in God she would live.

10. Hotel Rwanda. During the Rwandan genocide, hotel owner, Paul Rusesabagina, used his hotel to save the lives of 1,268 refugees from certain death.

11. A Lifesaving List. Oskar Schindler, an aspiring German entreprenuer, helped save the lives of over 1,000 Jews in Poland by adding them to a list of “essential workers” for his business during the Holocaust.

12. Helping Hands. After Hurricane Sandy totaled the East Coast, thousands of members from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including several of my university friends, helped with the clean up.

There are millions of stories like these out there from all ages of history. What are some you have found?

Letting Your Past Change You For The Better

An unknown author said, “Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it.” One of my good friends Samantha* (name has been changed) follows this quote to the T. When I was waiting with her at a hospital for an MRI appointment I remember how astounded I was at her optimistic attitude despite the fact she couldn’t move her leg. When she went to go get her MRI done, I told her, “Good luck. Don’t cause any trouble.” She smiled back at me and said, “I really hope I pass.” That joke made my day and inspired me. It’s really quite something to see someone like Samantha face an unpleasant task ahead with a smile and humor.

When you meet Samantha, you find her to be one of the sweetest and most optimistic girls you’ll ever come across. I had the opportunity to talk with Samantha about what life experiences led her to become who she is today.

Samantha comes from a rough family background. Samantha’s parents divorced when she was only twelve years old. Her Dad was kept busy as a local firefighter so he didn’t have custody over Samantha. One of the main reasons Samantha’s parents divorced was because her biological Mom was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Samantha’s Dad waited till Samantha was twelve to divorce her biological Mom so Samantha would be able to endure and understand what was happening. Samantha had no idea of her Mom’s outside behavior till she was thirteen when her Mom’s behavior became more prevalent. Her Mom would often come home under the influence occasionally bringing boyfriends. Surprisingly, Samantha’s Mom would drive her while under the influence. Her Mom was also emotionally abusive to Samantha. Samantha was told by her Mom frequently that she didn’t love her and hated her. She made Samantha come with her to “Narcotic Anonymous” meetings after Samantha’s Mom had her nursing license revoked from stealing drugs. Her Dad had Samantha keep a journal to remember all of the abuse so Samantha could testify accurately before a judge.

“I understand now that she wasn’t in her right mind because of the drugs and alcohol altered her so much,” said Samantha.

Samantha’s health was directly affected by her Mom’s actions. Samantha had to venture outside of her home to find food for herself at the grocery store. Her diet often consisted of ramen and pickles for dinner since that was the only food in her Mom’s house. Her Mom kept cats in the house despite the fact Samantha was allergic to them. Her Mom kept Samantha mostly because of the money she was getting from her biological Dad. Samantha described the relationship with her Mom as not loving, violent, painful, and not ideal. At times, Samantha feeling like there was no escape, contemplated taking her life than endure another day of emotional torture from her Mom. One time, Samantha was kicked out of the car by her Mom, had her cell phone taken away, and was worried her Mom was going to hurt her.

“I just sat there. I remember leaning up against the wall sliding down and I just remember saying, ‘I don’t know who is listening. I don’t know who is there. But I need help. I can’t do this on my own,’” said Samantha.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God sends his spirit down to us by means of the Holy Ghost, a part of the Godhead, to bring us comfort and peace during times of trial. We also believe that through this we can achieve healing from horrific trials. Samantha talked about how she felt this peace during this humbling experience.

Thankfully, Samantha was able to get away from her biological Mom when her biological Dad got full custody of her and married a more loving woman.

“At that time I needed love from anyone. So he placed my stepmom into my life who is first and foremost my best friend. Heavenly Father let me be super lucky because He let me see how a Mother should love her daughter. He let me see that it’s okay to trust someone else and to call them ‘Mom’. You don’t have to be afraid every day. You really can put all your trust in someone conditionally,” said Samantha.

Samantha credits the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the peace, happiness, and healing it has brought her since becoming a member in 2009. She also credits a seminary teacher and church leaders who helped teach her the true meaning of forgiveness. Samantha called her biological Mom completely forgiving her and telling her Mom to not let the past stop her from reaching her full potential. Samantha described how she felt a great weight lift off her during that phone call and how that trial no longer was suffocating her. Since then, Samantha has never heard again from her biological Mom. Samantha plans on pursuing a psychology career at her university to help others that were in similar situations like her in her middle school years. “I can now help others overcome that same trial and let them know that they can be more than a victim of circumstance,” said Samantha.

What makes the Samantha the way she is today? She said simply, “When you allow Him (God) to work in your life when other people have wronged you that is a true miracle. I got my reward. I don’t have to be angry anymore.”

As Samantha said, you do not have to be a victim of circumstance. Each of us has memories we grimace at the thought of. Some of these memories even try to ruin our lives and stop us from reaching our true potential. It’s all up to us how we treat these memories. The road is not always easy but it is worth it. Are you going to be a victim of circumstance? Choose to follow the example of Samantha and show the world that your past will not ruin your life.