First published July 24, 2020
By Thea Halo
Apparently, you don’t have to be a billionaire to help repair this broken world. We all know there are a multitude of medical workers, and those who work in the medical industry behind the scenes, who potentially sacrifice their own health to heal strangers. However, there are many other extraordinary ordinary people around the world who save lives, simply because they see a problem, and take it upon themselves to do what they can to help.
Take Lou Xiaoying, who lived in poverty in China. Yet, when Lou Xiaoying found an abandoned baby on a garbage heap in 1972—one of the unwanted girl babies of China’s one child policy—she took the baby home, nursed her back to health, and raised her. Lou Xiaoying would go on to save and raise 30 Children and was still at it even at the ripe old age of 82, when she and her husband saved and raised their last child.1
You’ll also find “Gino Strada, an Italian surgeon and humanitarian who left a lucrative career in medicine to serve as a war surgeon with the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC). Treating civilians and soldiers around the world, many in some of the most war-torn and remote places, Strada spent the last two decades performing surgeries in addition to setting up hospitals in a wide range of countries that include Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 1994, Strada co-founded an organization called EMERGENCY, that now runs over 60 hospitals, clinics and first aid posts, all of which offer free medical and surgical assistance to victims of war, landmines and poverty. Strada has personally performed over 30,000 life-saving surgeries to people who would not otherwise have access to medical care.”2
Then there are numerous others, such as barbers who have taken it upon themselves to give free hair cuts to the homeless and others in need, to help them regain a sense of self. Cory Gilmour, aka ‘Happy’ Gilmour, whose barbershop is in Downtown Santa Ana, and other barbers “open their arms to homeless people and any other needy folks who’d like a free haircut.…The first 100 to arrive also will get a free burger and a drink from Monster Energy, which is helping to sponsor the event.3 Brennon Jones, a Chester native who now lives in West Philadelphia, has given haircuts to more than 1,000 people who are homeless, and Steve Powell are among numerous others. Powell “knew there was more to life than floating… Powell said he had a dream in which hoards of angry, disheveled people approached a building. They were hopeless and battered when they walked in. But when they walked out, their spirits were lifted — and they had new haircuts.” Although Powell was not a barber, he decided to buy a mobile barbershop, which “provides free haircuts and cosmetic services to homeless people, students, veterans, senior citizens and low-income families in the Jacksonville area.”4 There are many others not mentioned here. Unfortunately, Juan Carlos de Orca’s story, among others, is an example of how government sometimes thwarts such selfless acts.5
Then there is Gregory Kloehn, who has “built some 50 tiny houses and distributed them to homeless people in West Oakland,” in what some call “acts of guerrilla philanthropy.”6
And of course, there were so many people who risked their own lives to save Jews in Nazi Germany and elsewhere. And there are those who now risk their careers and reputations to speak out for the human rights of the Palestinians. There were also people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the recently deceased Senator John Lewis, who fought for equal rights and got beaten and jailed for their efforts, but it didn’t stop them. Only death stopped Martin Luther King, Jr. We also have the longtime deceased, but not forgotten, Harriet Tubman, who was “Born into slavery in Maryland, … escaped to freedom in the North in 1849 to become the most famous ‘conductor’ on the Underground Railroad. Tubman risked her life to lead hundreds of family members and other slaves from the plantation system to freedom on this elaborate secret network of safe houses.”7 Tubman needn’t have continued after saving herself and her family, but she chose to continue to save so many more lives.
Yes, humans are sometimes the worse of Nature’s creations. But humans are also sometimes the best of Nature’s creations. Humans have the power and ability to make choices, and to prove there is something greater than one’s own selfish needs, as those listed above and so many others have proven. In fact, they have proven that the Christian proverb that ‘it is more blessed to give than receive,” not only helps the other, but it immeasurably helps the giver by making him or her an example, or a beacon of hope for all of humanity. It demonstrates that humans are capable of defying the more base instincts of nature to sit among the gods… to become immortal, in fact, because their names, and their deeds, will live on long past their physical form. Just check the internet and you’ll find the names and stories of those listed above, and so many other names and stories of otherwise ordinary people, who took the time to help repair this broken world. In other words, these extraordinary, ordinary people, might write on their tombstones:
I helped repair a broken world.
Therefore I am, and always will be.
- The Denver7 Team: https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/ordinary-people-who-stepped-up-to-help-others-and-became-extraordinary-heroes
- The Right Livlihood Foundation, Gino Strada Emergency, 2015 Italy. https://www.rightlivelihoodaward.org/laureates/gino-strada-emergency/
- Theresa Walker, Barber reopens in Santa Ana, will give free haircuts for homeless people, The Orange County Register, May 29, 2020.
- Paige Cushman, Little Rock (KATV), September 25th 2019.
- Ed Fuelner, The cosmetology cops, The Washington Times, Monday, January 15, 2018. Also see: Brittany Hunter, Haircuts for the Homeless: The Latest Public Menace. Foundation for Economic Education, Thursday, February 16, 2017. https://fee.org/articles/haircuts-for-the-homeless-the-latest-public-menace/
- Paul Lewis, Tiny houses: salvation for the homeless or a dead end?, The Guardian, March 23, 2017.
- Harriet Tubman Biography (c. 1820–1913) Biography, Jun 5, 2020. https://www.biography.com/activist/harriet-tubman