Friday, November 25, 2005

The Amazing Capacity for Compassion
I really struggled with whether I should write about this or not. It is, after all, not my story to tell, and it deals with one person's personal struggles and terrible pain and I don't want to in any way trivialize that. On the other hand, the drama that unfolded truly moved me as it demonstrated how compassionate complete strangers can be to another human's plight and desperate cries for help.
If you have been reading Matthew Good's blog the last few days you will know that a soldier posted a comment in which he stated that he intended to kill himself while listening to MGB, as he was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder after returning from Iraq and also finding his wife had cheated on him. He was contacting Matt to let him know how much his music had meant to him.
It would have been easy to cynically dismiss this post as a hoax, but instead Matt and fellow bloggers chose to take this at face value, offering support and sympathy to this faceless soldier. Even more importantly, a massive search was launched to find this man, to dissuade him from his planned suicide, and to get him the help he needed to make it through this.
Matt even had the compassion at one point to make a plea that even if this was a prank for the writer to come forward without any consequences, just so that people could put their minds at ease. People started offering suggestions as to where to find this person, based on clues left behind in his post and user name/ip address.
I don't know how they managed to do it, but through the selfless efforts of bloggers (and soldiers) Ben Allbright and Patrick Pitt and computer god Theron Parlin (sorry I have no link for Theron), the soldier was found. In time.
To me this illustrates all the finest aspects of humanity. It humbles me beyond words to know that people are capable of such compassion and are ready to act quickly and without questioning to save a life. This could have turned out to be a hoax, but these people couldn't risk it being a real cry for help. And they were so very right.
And I think this is why I love blogging so much. It's the sense of a very real community composed of very real people with struggles and joys in their lives. Most of us will never meet each other, but many of you have made a real difference in many lives.


Neil said...

Well said, Barbara. Matt, Ben, and Pitt and everyone concerned over a complete strangers welfare show how much compassion can exist and it was really good to see that they reached him.

I had been thinking about it a fair bit and hoping the fellow wasn't going to go through with it. I hope can turn things around.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yeah, it was a really life-affirming experience. I wish Chris well.

Jas B said...

Truly amazing.....

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that this level of humanity was even possible these days, as horribly jaded as it seems I am.

Thank you for sharing that story, Barbara. I never would have known.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Jas and Michelle - I still get all verklempt when I think about this. Bloggers are gr8.