In answer to a query about why the media seem so obsessed with bad news, Walter Cronkite once responded that it was “Because most people aren’t interested in all the cats that did not get stuck in trees today.” That’s true in that the unexpected and unusual is more the nature of “news.” The unbribed judge, for example, is not normally news. Cronkite’s glib response, however, doesn’t address pandering, sensationalism and ratings, but that’s another issue.
What’s been heartening, as always, is that the holiday season is accompanied by accounts of those who do for others. While we’re still reminded that the economy is dicey, terrorism palpable and storm water pervasive, we’re also mindful of the good that people do. Good for its own goodness. And it’s not just such societal stalwarts as the Salvation Army, Metropolitan Ministries or The Spring. It’s also individuals just doing the right thing because it needed doing immediately.
The twin towers of heroic, Good Samaritanism are Army Staff Sgt. Scott Gellin and University of South Florida basketball player-high jumper Jimmy Baxter. Gellin saved a drowning 12-year-old girl who had fallen into Tampa Bay, and Baxter pulled out two men trapped in a submerged car in a drainage ditch along I-275.
Whether “Heroism Happens” becomes a bumper sticker staple or not, the point is that there has never been a better time to focus on the good in a world increasingly impacted by evil and cynicism. Thanks, Scott and Jimmy, we needed that.
Also answering needs were numerous individuals, organizations and companies across the Tampa Bay region. They range from Tampa’s Hawkins Electric making sure that the Interbay Boys & Girls Club had a heated pool to the Bucs’ Keenan McCardell playing Santa to needy kids to the gardening efforts of students at Philip Shore Elementary School, who donated produce to the homeless.
There are a lot of good stories out there because there are a lot of good people out there. It’s not always “news.” But always important. Now more than ever.