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A good snowstorm restores one's faith in humanity

Ruth Haag • Jan 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM

My husband Bob decided to try doing a front roll, both for exercise and to entertain the grandchildren. He landed a bit crooked and lay still for a little bit. Harriet, 18 months old, got a concerned look on her face and toddled over to see if she could help him. This reminded me of a January 2013 article in Smithsonian Magazine  which asked the question, “Are Babies Born Good?” Arber Tasimi, a researcher at the Infant Cognition Center at Yale, along with others, believes, that babies are born good. Many studies have confirmed that babies and toddlers will go to the aid of people with problems, be it picking up something that has fallen off a table, to (in Harriet’s case) trying to help her Grandfather get up.


On the other hand, apocalypse movies and books always convey the message that adults, in times of major crises, either kill everyone they see or at least steal from one another. I suppose some of this comes from observing humans when they are really upset about political events, such as during riots. Some of it must also come from an idea that humans will do anything to protect themselves, including harm their neighbors. So we know that as soon as a major crisis comes along, such as a really big, cold snowstorm, adults will be out stealing and killing.


But with each big snowstorm, we have an opportunity to see that humanity is not what we are told in movies and books. We find out that people are basically pretty nice, like babies are.


I have been driving in snow storms for some years now, and before I had all-wheel drive on my car, I would occasionally get my car stuck. I have never had my car stuck in snow for more than 5 minutes. Have you ever noticed that? You get stuck and suddenly there are several people around you helping, they are not beating you up or stealing your food, they are patiently instructing you how to rock your car back and forth to get out, while they push as a team. 


When I was living in Findlay, Ohio, our house shared a driveway with our neighbors. After a large snowfall, the neighbors and I got together and agreed to get one car out, mine, since it was already closer to the street. Once my car was free I was assigned to go to the grocery store. I thought that I should go check another of our neighbors, a very nice 75 year lady who lived across the street. “Mrs. Taylor,” I called to her, “I’m able to get to the grocery store; is there anything that you need?” “Yes,” Mrs. Taylor replied, “I need some flour.” “Is that all?” I asked. “Yes, I have to make some pancakes for the squirrels.” Mrs. Taylor was a woman who was even thinking about others when she died. In her will, she left a million dollars to the federal government, in order to help pay down the national debt.


Do you have a “people are basically good” story from last week’s snow storm?

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