Monday, February 28, 2022

You Will Always Find People Who Are Helping

Over the weekend, I was in Rockport, Texas at the Coastal Bend Children's Conference hosted by the Children's Coalition of Aransas County.

You may remember the name of Rockport, but maybe not why. This was the community that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The coalition was formed in response, with the mission of supporting families and their young children as they strive to recover.

I recall when Harvey was the major news story. It was on my mind for a week or two. But the fact that Harvey came up in nearly every one of my conversations this weekend tells me how fresh it all still is for those who lived through it.

Some years back, I had a similar experience when I visited Christchurch, New Zealand to find the people there were still living through the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

As I write this, families in the Ukraine are fleeing their homes or hiding in tunnels and cellars, as bombs and bullets fly. Right now, we are sharing images of sunflowers, public buildings are being lit up in yellow and blue, but if experience is any guide it will only be a matter of months before their living hell will be little more than a memory for most of us, even as today, this very minute, our hearts and minds are ablaze with empathy.

As I spoke to those Aransas County educators, these (mostly) women, who are, day after day, working on behalf of children and their families, I was amongst the people who did not move on, who could not move on, who knew that once the wind and rain came to an end that there were children who needed them. These are women who allowed their empathy, their compassion, and indeed, their love to spare them to start rebuilding where it matters most.

photo credit unknown

When humans are injured, our bodies release endogenous opioid neuropeptides, otherwise known and endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter, a morphine-like substance that is produced in times of stress, fear, or pain to suppress the transmission of pain signals to the brain, even creating a state of euphoria as one might expect from an opioid. When invaded by foreign objects like bacteria or viruses, our bodies produce proteins called immunoglobulins, or antibodies, that neutralize the invading organisms, killing them and removing them from our bodies.

When I think of endorphins and antibodies I imagine them swarming to the scene, overwhelming the attackers and invaders with sheer numbers. These women of Aransas County swarmed to the scene as well, and are still swarming there, like endorphins or antibodies, racing to the scene of tragedy to be helpers, to suppress the pain, to kill the virus, replacing the horror with the euphoria of human love. We see this phenomenon over and over, and while our news media focuses on the scary things, these women, and women like them, are swarming to the scene everywhere, just not always where the news cameras are pointed.

Forget the cynics and fear-mongers, this is a great truth about human beings: when there is pain, we swarm. You will always find people who are helping, and we are legion.


"Few people are better qualified to support people working in the field of early childhood education than Teacher Tom. This is a book you will want to keep close to your soul." ~Daniel Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child, and Get Over It! Relearning Guidance Practices.
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