Restoring My Faith in Humanity

This is my second attempt at writing this piece, my first story having gone off the rails and turning into an anti-fireworks manifesto. Anyway, the short version is that I hate this time of year because of all of the people shooting fireworks until all hours of the morning (two nights ago, there was a lot of mortars fired at 3AM and more at 4AM). I’m not talking about fire crackers, I’m talking about full-on 1- and 2-inch mortars. Some loud enough to shake the windows in my house from blocks away.

I don’t know many people who are fans of home fireworks. It’s awful for pets and babies and anybody who has to be up to work in the morning. In my neighborhood—which isn’t a bad neighborhood, but it’s close to some poorer neighborhoods (unemployed, uneducated, Michigan rednecks, etc.)—people LOVE their fireworks.

At the risk of stereotyping, some of them just seem to enjoy things that go boom. And they love things that go BOOM! The louder the better. There are no visuals, it’s just a huge noise. And if it wakes everybody up, so what? Freedom! And if it scares dogs, get tougher dogs because these colors don’t run! And it goes on for night after night after night after night. (I think I heard my first fireworks of the year at Easter…no joke.)

Sometimes, when I am awakened at night hearing another local mortar extravaganza (which I can only assume is paired with a Kid Rock soundtrack blaring from the boombox on the porch), I hope to hear someone screaming in pain or hear fire trucks. Okay, that’s not really true, but it’s almost true.

So suffice is to say that at this time of year, I’m just fed up with people. This morning, though, I got a welcome reprieve from my frustration when I saw one of my neighbors go outside.

I don’t really know him more than to wave and exchange weather chat with, but he’s a pleasant guy who has his problems. Among them is that he is very heavy, probably well over 300 pounds. He has to take the five steps from his back door down to his drive way sideways or backwards, using the railing for support. It can take him a minute or two just to take those five steps. You can see that it hurts him and sometimes even hear him straining, it’s really painful to watch.

Anyway, this morning, I see him come outside (as with most days, I’m working out on my screened-in front porch). He grabs a shovel and heads toward his front yard, using the shovel as a cane. I just figured there was something in his yard he had to do (he does some stuff outside, even works on cars, so it’s not like he’s totally helpless). I hear him doing something with the shovel and don’t give it a second thought until a guy who was out walking came up and says something to him.

When I heard the second voice, I looked up and realized that what my neighbor was trying to do was move a rock to his back yard by pushing it an inch or two at a time with his shovel. It’s wasn’t a huge rock, probably only 20 pounds or so, but my neighbor would never be able to bend over to pick it up. The walker asks him if he can help him with it and picks it up and carries it to where the neighbor wanted it. And then they exchanged pleasantries, a thank you and a handshake. Then the walker went back to wherever he was walking in the first place.

The fact that this guy saw my neighbor struggling with this rock, altered his course to come over to help a total stranger really heartens me.

I like to think that I’m that type of person. I try to help other people when I see they need a hand. It seems like I’m most useful in the grocery store because I often find myself grabbing an item off a top shelf or helping to read a label (talk about the blind leading the blind). I see tiny acts of kindness like this all of the time and it reminds me that most people really are decent people.

And even though I’ll never understand why our stupid governor signed a fireworks bill into law that so few people wanted, I need to remind myself that those people are in the minority. They don’t care that their actions impact anybody else because they’re selfish and ignorant. I’m grateful for this morning’s reminder that people aren’t like that. People are generally kind and human nature, for most of us, is to help others.

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