California is still on fire. Across the state, 1.7 million acres have burned, killing seven people and destroying or damaging over 3,000 structures. The largest of those fires — the SCU Lightning Complex — is right here in our own backyard. It saw a number of Livermore residents along Mines and Tesla roads evacuated. It sits at a No. 2 spot for historic fires in the state.
On the heels of a global pandemic that’s taken lives and shuttered businesses, along with the tragic killing of George Floyd and the civil unrest that followed, the bright-red sun that now pokes through a sooty layer of smoke in the sky provides an apocalyptic ambiance. Many of us are wondering, “How can 2020 get any worse?”
In times of crises, a familiar quote from the late Mr. Rogers recirculates online — one he attributed to his mother, who would reassure him as a child when the news would scare him:
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
This simple, yet poignant, statement echoes through our society time and again. It started with the frontline workers aiding the sick, and the community stepping forward to make masks or deliver groceries to those who were homebound. When hearts broke not only for Floyd’s family, but also for the countless others who died at the hands of racism and police brutality, once again, helpers stepped forward. We saw volunteer committees form to address social inequities, city leadership and school districts tackle the difficult conversation of race in an attempt to effect change and police reform; donations poured into organizations such as Equal Justice Initiative, which challenges racial and economic injustice in the U.S.
And now, we see the helpers again, flocking to the fire zone. They are the firefighters, battling flames and saving lives. They are the volunteers, friends and neighbors helping one another evacuate.
When it seems the whole world is on fire, we especially thank all the helpers, who quietly remind us of our humanity.