It felt personal.
I have significant connections to the locations of this weekends events. Pittsburgh and Leicester are both fantastic cities. One I called home for four years, the other I commuted to weekly for the same amount of time. I hold both with much fondness. Seeing friends, colleagues and even acquaintances impacted by these events has and continues to be really hard and at times harrowing. It can be so easy to notice only a small aspect of what is going on, so much so that we miss observations, sometimes the most important ones. So with this, I have attempted to keep my eyes open as wide as I can – and boy, my trust in humankind has appreciated.
Look for the Helpers. I’m going to lean on a Pittsburgh legend, Fred Rogers who during his life resided in Squirrel Hill. For those not in the know, he created a children’s programme called Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood. There’s a line in his show “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbours, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Yes, it’s become a meme, cliched and some could argue it would be better if events like these didn’t happen so we didn’t need to look for helpers. But accidents and tragedy have been happening for centuries/arguably since before records from history began and I’m yet to find one where you can’t spot an over riding quality that human beings have – they help. From the Leicestershire Police Officers running towards the helicopter to the young boy offering Pittsburgh Police cookies.
Solidarity. There are no words to express the size and scale of the solidarity that is happening in these two communities. You can visually start to capture it in the photos being shared by the media, but I know that will under estimate it. From the thousands of people who attended the vigil organised by students from a local Pittsburgh school within 12 hours, to the mass laying of flowers, sporting shirts and other items outside the Leicester City Stadium. When hard times occur, we as humans come together, we express our feelings and we hold each other close. Its what strengthens our community. Often with strangers and with no shame.
It’s not our role to judge. I’ve been struck by those putting judgement to one side. There’s an interview of a doctor who treated the gunman after the attack. That same doctor attends the synagogue where the eleven died. He talked about his role was not to judge, that’s for others, his role was to care. The man he treated was someone’s son and he should not discriminate. The doctor’s only question – what has happened in society that encourages individuals to carry out such acts? Selfless, non judgemental, inclusive and still curious.
Legacy. We all leave a legacy. The chairman of Leicester City Football Club is leaving an imprint not only on the club, but the whole of the Leicester community. The stories are starting to unfold of the person he was and how he behaved to others. They talk about him as a man that rarely spoke to the media, but of generosity and approachability. I did a little bit of ‘googling’ and could see very quickly why he was respected. He was a leader. He has developed others. He was inspiring.
Similarly, I’ve read stories of many of the eleven. A friend of mine thanked on social media one of the eleven for being the families doctor for many years and caring so well for those that had passed that he was now joining. These legacies live on. It’s these stories I choose to remember.
My learning? Keep your eyes looking and build broad perspectives. Even in the hardest of times it’s beneficial. By doing this, I’ve realised that I’ve unconsciously been depositing into my bank account of “Trusting Humankind” and it’s opened up other areas in my life where those two behaviours could be used more effectively.
These two cities are still grieving. My heart is with them both. The truth I’m choosing to hold is that they will be even stronger than before – the values I admire about these two cities before this weekend, will ring out louder and prouder in time.