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Acknowledging the scale of good and evil

Brandon Lesko
Assoc. Opinion Editor

Reading the headlines everyday can leave one feeling as though the world is in a tailspin headed straight for hell. Even looking at the topics in this opinion section would lead one to believe that the only things going on in the world concern terrorism, war, a growing number of people below the poverty line, and abuse by the government. We are bombarded every waking minute by the internet and cable news channels that paint a picture that only gets grimmer by the day.
Why am I reminding you of something you probably already know? It’s to remind you of something I think we tend to forget: not that the world can be a dark place, but that even though we seem to be surrounded by evil, there are still many human beings in this world that are decent at heart.
Last Friday, after a week filled with violence and mayhem, my car broke down on Manor Street having run out of gas (FYI: the gas gauge and odometer are broken). As my lifeless car drifted to the side of the street, four ways flashing, I managed to pull into a housing development before the car came to a dead stop.
After all the phone numbers of friends who had cars had been exhausted, I decided to go around the neighborhood knocking on doors to see if anyone had lawnmower gas I could pay them for. One by one, I knocked and either received no answer or was told that they couldn’t help me. Maybe I scared them.
Finally, I came upon a house with an unmown lawn. Doubtful that I would receive any help, I rang the doorbell. In moments, an elderly gentleman answered the door and after listening to my predicament, he motioned towards the garage. As I stood in his driveway, the garage door slowly began to open, revealing the man holding an empty gas can. “Hop on in!”, he exclaimed as he motioned towards his car.
On our way to the gas station I thanked the man profusely. He humbly told me “That’s what we’re all here for; to help each other.”
As the words sunk into my head, I began to recollect the events of the past week. The bombings in Boston, congresses failure to pass gun control legislation, and the arrest of Reese Witherspoon had left me feeling as though our society were sliding into baseness. But I realized in that moment that people like the unnamed stranger, who had driven me to get gas, no questions asked, are far more common than we realize.
It is easy to get wrapped up in thinking that people are scum, only capable of selfishness and violence, but that is more the exception than the rule. The majority of people are reasonable and more often than not, nice to one another.
Further proof of the potential for good is provided any time there is an accident or catastrophe, like the bombings last week. Two people were responsible for death and mass injuries, but there were hundreds of responders to take care of the wounded and thousands more who continue to donate and show support in other ways.
It’s sad that it took my car breaking down for me to be reminded of the goodness that people are capable of, but at the same time, I’m grateful it happened. I was guilty, as many of us are, of adopting a despairing outlook on the world. The reality is that terrible things do happen, but they are carried out by a minority of violently troubled people. In this world, the loudest people are heard, but they are certainly not representatives of the majority.