“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
Unfortunately, in times of disaster there will be people who spend their time spouting hate and ignorance instead of being productive. As clean up began after the tornadoes in Oklahoma this week I wondered if Westboro Baptist Church would try and make an appearance. Sure enough, they rolled up in their crazy train. They drove around Norman in their clown car and there were rumors that they would be protesting the funeral of a 9 year old child killed in the tornado. The response to their threat of protest was swift and amazing. Over one thousand people showed up to support this family and protect them from the hate of this ridiculous group.
Westboro Baptist Church is nothing more than a cult and anyone with a normal moral compass can see that their brand of theology is hair brained at best and toxic at worst. They have created a god that suits their twisted sense of how the Creator interacts with His creation. This god that they have formed to fit their interpretation of the bible is not the same God that I know. I would go so far as to guess that their members have been abused and brainwashed. Abused spiritually, emotionally and possibly physically in order to maintain control over them. Their souls have become so black and warped that I can only pity them.
This week Pat Robertson pitched his tent on the side of ignorance right along with WBC. He started by questioning why people would live in a place that is frequented by tornadoes and then suggested that the people of Moore didn’t pray hard enough for Jesus to calm the winds. First of all, does he think the entire population of Oklahoma City and it’s surrounding suburbs should pack up and move? Secondly, he obviously doesn’t know a thing about the demographic of Oklahoma. These are god-fearing people and I’m certain that 99% of the people in the path of the tornado were praying…hard.
People like Pat Robertson and Westboro Baptist Church remind me of a traveling carnival freak show. They get a lot of attention for their brand of crazy and people look their way. However, most of us know right from wrong and we shake our heads and move on. Day to day, their ignorance or hate speech doesn’t effect us. But then tragedy hits and they strike a nerve. It’s difficult not to be angry when families who are grieving are being kicked about and used as publicity fodder.
Thankfully the talking heads are in the minority. The majority are the thousands of volunteers who showed up immediately following the devastation and started cleaning up. The majority are the businesses who showed up to provide food and supplies to relief workers and families who had lost everything. The majority are the ones who donated so many cases of water, clothing, diapers, and food that finally the distribution centers had to say they had too much. The majority are the ones who showed up to help with clean up and had to be turned away because there were already too many volunteers in the area. The majority are the thousand people who showed up to grieve for a family they didn’t know and surround them with love while protecting them from hate. These are the helpers. The helpers give selflessly of their time and resources to help those in need. The helpers are the family who lost everything yet still put something in the offering basket as it was passed to help their fellow victims.
The helpers are all around us. They are even in the mirror. Long after Westboro has packed up and taken their miserable existence back to their home town there will be helpers. Long after Pat Robertson utters his last insult and spends an eternity feeling remorse, regret and asking forgiveness, there will be helpers. Yes, there will always be bad things that happen and bad people who perpetuate anger and hate but there will always be more of the helpers.