The outpouring of joy and support following the announcement that 13-year-old Jayme Closs had been found safe three months after being abducted from her Wisconsin home is a sign of hope.
Far too often, we are confronted by examples of people who seem to have the attitude, “As long as I’ve got mine, the rest of you can go to the devil.”
People who have access to fresh, clean water don’t care about those who are thirsty.
Those who have plenty to eat don’t care about those who go hungry.
People who have access to health care don’t care about those who do without.
Some who enjoy the benefits of citizenship because their ancestors got here earlier despise those who seek a new life in this country today.
And yet, a story about a girl from the small town of Barron, WI captured national attention.
It wasn’t just Jayme’s friends and neighbors who rejoiced when the news came out that she was safe; people from all over, many of whom never met the girl, joined in the celebration.
Perhaps part of the reason is that Jayme beat the odds. Often, when a person is kidnapped, the outcome is far less happy.
Her community never gave up, and this scrappy young girl never gave up, and she was eventually able to escape and run to safety. Stories like that always make good copy.
Maybe there is something more.
It is possible that some of the people who followed Jayme’s story so closely did so because they could imagine how they would feel if it were their daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin, or neighbor who had been abducted.
Perhaps some of them thought about what it would be like if a stranger broke into their home in the middle of the night and murdered their parents before throwing them in the trunk of a car and making them a prisoner.
Being able to put ourselves in the place of another, and be sensitive to and understand what they are experiencing is vital to our society. It brings us together when the forces of evil are working to drive us apart.
Jayme and her family are just beginning their road to recovery, and they have a long way to go.
It was chilling to read about how the person accused of killing Jayme’s parents and kidnapping her carefully planned these heinous acts, even though they had never met.
To experience this firsthand, and have their lives turned upside down is not something they will overcome quickly.
However, it appears they won’t have to make the journey alone. They will have the support of family, friends, classmates, the community, and even people they have never met.
As long as there are people who will do what they can to help others even strangers in their time of need, there will be hope for us as a society.
Even in the face of the most despicable acts or unimaginable tragedy, as long as there are people willing to do what is right and offer assistance simply because it is the right thing to do, we will have a chance.
While I read about the case, and heard the interviews on TV, I thought about what it would be like if something like this happened to someone I know.
As a journalist, I thought about what it would be like to have something like this happen in one of the small towns we cover.
The Closs family and the town of Barron will never be the same, but one good thing that has come out of the events of the past few months is a reminder of the power of people coming together to help a neighbor. And in that power, there is hope.