6 True Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity
Fun fact: If people were actually as bad as we say they are, civilization could not exist.
So while the headlines are dominated by our weekly mass shootings, the reality is that day to day, we common folk make little sacrifices for each other and let insults slide and feel bad when we act like douchebags. Once the riot is over, cops and rioters will both stand and make small talk in the same line at Burger King.
"If anyone disagrees with this place having the best chicken nuggets, I will change your mind with pepper spray."
We have a whole thread on our forum where we collect little bits to restore your faith in humanity, and I check on it every once in a while to remind myself why I shouldn't utter the magic world-ending incantation that old wizard taught me years ago. So let's sit back and celebrate ...
Regular Folks Risking Their Asses to Stop Hatred
In the wake of a terrorist attack in Egypt that left 21 minority Christians dead at the hands of radical Muslims, there was fear throughout the country that any Christian gathering was a target. So when Christmas Eve came just a few days later, Christians left their houses for church services feeling like there was a bull's-eye on their back. And sure enough, what they found when they arrived at their Christmas Eve services was a mob of Muslims waiting for them.
The mob was there to deliver a very clear message: "If the terrorists want to kill you, they'll have to kill us, too." They were there to act as human shields.
This means they also missed the A Christmas Story marathon on cable.
In case you were wondering "Why would Christians even risk living in the Middle East in the first place?" you might be surprised to find out that Egypt is 10 percent Christian -- Christians and Muslims eat at the same restaurants and go see the same movies, and by God, they've got each others' backs when shit gets serious. Even in Iran, both Christianity and Judaism are legal and protected in their constitution. I guess what I'm trying to say is, none of this is as simple as the people with suits and podiums want you to believe.
The signs in these people's hands prove it.
Let's try an even more awesome example. In the war-ravaged African nation of Liberia, it's the Muslims who are the minority in a nation that is overwhelmingly Christian. They were in the middle of two consecutive decades of civil war, where factions of warlords basically staged a reality show where whoever committed the most atrocities won the country. Finally, a woman named Leymah Roberta Gbowee started convincing other women -- Muslims and Christians both -- to stand up and demand an end to the war. From mosque to church they went, recruiting women who were as fed up as they were.
"Let's full on Lysistrata this motherfucker."
These women proceeded to get right in the faces of the warlords, demanding an end to the violence. Keep in mind, this isn't like protesting in America, where maybe you get pepper sprayed and spend a night in jail on a disorderly conduct charge. These are warlords who used drugged children as battlefield drones and mutilated the faces and limbs of anyone who stood in their way. These are people who used rape as a military tactic.
But in 2003, this group of women protested and shouted and increased their numbers, demanding that the warring factions sit down at the peace table and hammer out a truce. And they did. They actually stopped the war just to shut them up. Liberia held its first democratic elections two years later.
And Leymah Roberta Gbowee went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
Completely Unrelated Bonus Video:
No matter who you are or where you are from or what kind of day you are having, it is impossible not to respond to a toddler who is waving to you. Keep watching:
Random Acts of Kindness from People Who Had No Reason to Care
When you work fast food, they're really not paying you enough money to give a shit. In fact, one of the only upsides of the job is that nobody expects you to.
So, for instance, if you're a delivery driver for Domino's, it's not like you have some close relationship with the people who greet you at the door. You probably don't even remember them, unless they keep opening the door nude. So, when delivery driver Susan Guy realized that a particular elderly woman had mysteriously stopped ordering pizzas, what reason did she even have to notice? Maybe somebody opened a Papa John's nearby. Maybe the lady went on a diet.
Maybe she died from eating all that fucking pizza.
But on a hunch, Guy jumped in her pizzamobile and, on her own time, drove out to the lady's house. She banged on the door. No answer. She banged on a window. Nothing. Finally she got a neighbor to call 911.
Stop and think about how foolish she would have looked if she were wrong here. Maybe the lady was just on vacation, maybe she had just run out to the store, maybe she would be furious that a stupid pizza delivery driver was nosing into her business. But when the cops came and forced the door, there was the old lady, lying where she had fallen three days earlier, unable to get to a phone.
No one else had checked on her, and no one else was going to. Except for pizza delivery woman Susan Guy, who had every right in the world to just shrug and go on with her day.
Making her the first pizza delivery person to increase someone's life expectancy.
Then we have Virginia Saenz. Let's say one day you get a wrong number phone call from a total stranger. It's a woman who leaves a nonsense message on your voice mail, addressing a person who doesn't live there, with a message that goes something like this: "I can send you money for groceries, but that won't leave me enough to pay my mortgage this month, and the house is already in foreclosure."
Saenz, a real estate agent whose only connection to these people was that her phone number was a couple of transposed digits away from theirs, could have just deleted the message. Or, if she was motivated to be a good Samaritan, Saenz could have called the person back to let her know she had gotten the wrong number, so she'd know that the person she had intended to call would never hear her message.
Or at least call her back so she could hear our cruel, mocking laughter at her misfortune.
But instead, Saenz called the stranger back and said, "I'll take care of the groceries, don't worry about it." The lady, Lucy Crutchfield, had meant to leave a message for her daughter. Saenz contacted the daughter and bought her and her family enough groceries to get them through the end of the month, allowing Crutchfield to pay her mortgage.
There are people who make a habit of this sort of thing, by the way. In Tennessee, a group of nine women have been running a secret charity for decades, just prowling around the city looking for strangers who'd had their power turned off, or who had just had a death in the family, whatever. Then they'd sneak by their home in the wee hours of the morning and drop off envelopes of cash and a freshly baked cake. Over the decades they've dispensed nearly a million freaking dollars this way.
They did it anonymously, on their own time, just for the pure hell of it.
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Real-Life Bruce Waynes
The problem with dreaming of being Batman is that in real life, spending your family fortune on martial arts training and grappling hooks wouldn't really do anybody any good. Stopping street crime requires a justice system, not vigilantes, and in the real world, supervillains work in offices behind a moat full of lawyers. There are ways to put your fortune to good use, however, without throwing a single bat-shaped shuriken at anyone.
"Of course, lil' Jimmy. I'll sucker punch the Joker twice for you."
Take Lenny B. Robinson, the Baltimore businessman who has poured more money than some of us make in a year into a full Batman costume and other gear to go entertain sick kids. He even bought a black Lamborghini and decked it out with bat symbols (though we suspect he would have done that anyway).
"In fact, doing that was the only reason I got rich in the first place."
He spends about $25,000 a year on this little crusade, buying toys and gifts to give out to kids suffering from leukemia and equally awful diseases. Yes, he's rich and he can do this kind of thing, but it's still nice to see an example of a rich guy giving back when you hear so much about pro athletes and such blowing their fortunes on bullshit. Hey, speaking of which ...
There was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers named Kim Hughes who was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The doctor who was approved under his insurance plan was going to require him to wait a few months to do the surgery, and Hughes didn't want to (it would be risky, and that would require him to miss a good part of the upcoming season). He found another doctor willing to do it sooner, but the insurance company let him know that they wouldn't be paying for it.
"Kim, can you lick my phone? Kim?"
It was a good thing he didn't wait -- the cancer, it turns out, was already starting to spread. But saving a life isn't cheap -- the bill wound up over $70,000, and Hughes and his family were going to get nailed for every penny. That is, until several Clippers players heard about the situation and told him not to worry about the bill. They just paid it themselves.
Though we guess all of this is small potatoes compared to Bill Gates. Once voted Most Likely to Carve His Face into the Moon With a Giant Laser, Gates has donated a mind-boggling $28 billion of his personal fortune to date. Billion, with a "b." As in, he's donated a million dollars 28,000 times over.
But then, he and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett convinced 57 billionaires around the world to give away half of their money to people in need, and got them to sign a pledge saying so. If you're sitting there thinking, "Yeah, but those guys can afford it!" you are profoundly misunderstanding how hard it is to separate the super rich from their money. That's how they got rich, after all. Right now, go to your nearest rich guy's mansion and ask for half his money. All you'll get is a bill two weeks later for the electricity the bodyguards used Tasering you.
"Tell you what -- these next four minutes are on the house."
Completely Unrelated Bonus Video:
A puppy learning how to roll over for the first time:
Not Seizing the Chance to Be a Dick
Most of us have a secret fantasy where we'll get the perfect excuse to act like a dick in a situation where nobody will blame us. That's why we love revenge movies, like the ones starring Liam Neeson where he or his family is wronged and he goes on a completely justified murderous rampage. It's not just that we fantasize that we'd respond like a destructive god of vengeance if wronged -- it's that we want to be wronged just so we have an excuse. It's also why we love sitcom smartasses and Dr. House types, because we wish that we too had the perfect insult ready to whip out on the next person who deserves it.
So here's one of those perfect smackdown situations that actually happened: Imagine you spend your entire life in the military as an officer who leads units in multiple wars. In 40 years of service, you rise through the ranks to become a general, and the vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army. So one day you're at a fancy Washington dinner with the president of the United States and other bigwigs. As you pass one table, one of the liberal women Obama has working in his administration glances back at you and tells you to go get her a glass of wine.
"And don't drop any of those stupid patches in it."
The man was General Peter Chiarelli, the woman was Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, and the situation was an all-time setup for a smackdown of epic proportions. "Who are you, you freaking bleeding heart bureaucrat, to talk to me that way? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH." He had the chance to utterly obliterate her, and he'd have been applauded for it.
What did Chiarelli do? Well, he immediately figured out what had happened -- the waiter's uniforms were identical to what the officers were wearing, minus a couple of dozen medals. She just saw him out of the corner of her eye and mistook him for a server. Immediately after seeing her mistake, she probably assumed that she had just ruined her career. But Chiarelli? He went and got her some wine, just like she asked. Then they all laughed about it.
Silently quieting the urge to send her to Guantanamo.
There is a similar famous story where a woman at a Utah airport saw a big black man at the curb and assumed he was an airport employee. She asked him to carry her bags to her car, not realizing the man was NBA great Karl Malone. She did not find this out, in fact, until after he carried out her bags and had to explain why he couldn't accept her tip.
But probably my favorite example of this was a Major League baseball pitcher named Armando Galarraga. The guy has had a mediocre career, spending most of it in the minor leagues. But in 2010 he got called up out of the minors by the Detroit Tigers and pitched one of the greatest games in the history of the sport.
That's him, straining under the weight of the standard 28-pound American baseball.
He reached the final out in the ninth inning, having pitched a perfect game -- he allowed no hits and no walks. Understand, this is something that had only happened 19 times in the last century. So before you say, "Ah, it's just a game, who cares?" keep in mind that he was doing something that, in the field he worked in, would have earned him instant immortality. That perfect game would follow him for the rest of his life. The vast majority of even the greatest Hall of Fame pitchers play their entire careers without ever doing it, and here this 28-year-old nobody was about to pull it off, in miracle fashion. He just had to get one more out.
He made the pitch. The batter hit a little ground ball. The fielder threw it to first base, the runner was out by a mile.
"His shadow touched the plate! It counts!"
But first base umpire Jim Joyce wasn't paying attention and declared the runner safe, ruining the perfect game, and ruining the one great achievement of Galarraga's life (the very next batter would get an out, ending the game). The crowd went nuts, sounding like they were about to riot. The Tigers players and manager screamed at the umpire, who admitted that he blew it (or as he put it, "Biggest call of my career, and I kicked the shit out of it.").
Galarraga's reaction to having the crowning achievement of his life ruined by an incompetent umpire?
He said, "Nobody's perfect. Everybody's human. I understand." Joyce, the umpire, came to apologize to him after the game, and Galarraga hugged him. Joyce was working the next Tigers game, and Galarraga made it a point to carry the lineup card out, part of every pregame ritual. He shook the umpire's hand. Joyce was crying.
"By the way, just so you know, I played with my nuts for about an hour before coming out here."
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The Internet Making Sappy Stories About Reunited Loved Ones Come True
In 1938 Germany, it was widely known that things were about to get very bad for the Jews. Seeing the approaching shitstorm, some Jewish families secretly sneaked their children out of the country, sending them to America on ships.
A pair of 12-year-old German girls -- Edith Westerfeld and Gerda Katz -- met on one of these boats, and for two weeks during their journey, they became friends. Two girls, heading to New York, while a black wave of horror was about to crush the lives they left behind. Upon arrival in America, they went their separate ways -- one to Chicago, the other to Seattle -- and never saw each other again. For most of a century, anyway.
Then, 73 years later, Westerfeld's daughter was talking to a classroom full of middle school kids about the Holocaust. She told this story, about the ship and her mother and her mother's long-long-lost friend. The eighth graders looked at each other and said, well, shit, we have the Internet now. Nobody needs to stay lost.
Then they showed her how to watch all the porn she could ever want for free.
So, while we think of Internet-using 13-year-olds as spending all of their time spamming racist comments on YouTube, this class spent four solid days tracking down Gerda Katz. They found her, still alive, and got her in touch with Westerfeld. After more than seven decades, those two girls on the boat spoke to each other, and later met up in person, in Seattle.
The Internet, it turns out, is actually pretty good for this stuff. In 2007, a woman living in Malaysia took to her webcam and asked for help finding the mother she had left behind in America 32 years earlier, after her father had taken her away.
She uploaded the video to YouTube and, months later, her mother's nephew and his girlfriend were sitting around vanity searching their own names when this weird YouTube video came up. The nephew forwarded it around to the rest of the family. They got in contact with the woman from YouTube, Halimah Hajar, and said yes, your mother is still around, and she has a whole family now. A couple of webcam conversations later, they bought her a one-way ticket to come to the USA. She was hesitant, because she had been raised as a Muslim and heard that Muslims weren't welcome in the U.S. Then she got off the plane and the first thing she saw at the airport were other women in head scarves and nobody really giving a shit as they wandered around eating their meals from Chili's Too. She was home.
In China, meanwhile, they've set up a whole system for doing this. Child kidnappings are rampant there, and in a country of 1.3 billion people and 3.6 million square miles, the odds of finding your kid again are almost nil. But now they've set up a system where parents of lost children can upload photos of their missing kids, and other people upload photos of random kids they see begging in the street, trying to find a match. It seems like (literally) a one in a billion shot, but this has already resulted in one man reuniting with his son who had been lost for three damned years.
Time flows more rapidly in China.
Completely Unrelated Bonus Video:
A dog who believes (wrongly) that he is committing the perfect crime:
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Making Naive Dreams Come True, At All Costs
I don't want to come off like I'm being too hard on 5-year-olds, but they tend to have grossly unrealistic expectations of the world.
For instance, when a 5-year-old girl in Seattle heard her poor mother hinting that maybe "Santa" might not have the cash to bring Christmas presents this year, she embarked on what probably seemed like a reasonable solution: She wrote a letter to Santa with her Christmas wishes (a doll, a tea set, some pants) and tied it to a couple of balloons. Then she sent it off under the drastically incorrect assumption that it would somehow find its way to Santa's shop at the North Pole.
"There's email now, kids. You know this."
It didn't, of course, but it went further than you might think: The note made it from Seattle to an empty field in Northern California, 700 miles away. And that's where it should have stayed, to be ground up by some farm equipment months later. But the Sanderson family, who owned the property, happened to stumble across it.
This traveled 676 miles.
Why would they particularly care about the piece of paper they found in the mud with Spanish writing on it? They couldn't even read Spanish, after all. But they had a ranch hand who could, and they had him translate. Then they realized it was a little girl's plea to Santa for some rudimentary Christmas gifts. Then they went out and bought all of the gifts, and shipped them to her. Because Santa Claus does exist, if we want him to.
Of course, I can't talk about this sort of thing without bringing up the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which specializes in granting the wishes of dying children (we did a whole article about the most badass wishes they've granted). But occasionally they'll get that weird kid whose wish is, say, to rain down utter destruction as if by the horrible fist of Shiva himself. And that's when the Make-A-Wish Foundation says, "No problem."
And so, when a 7-year-old cancer patient from California said his big wish was to utterly destroy a large building, they found where a huge concrete grain silo complex was about to be demolished in Ohio. They pulled some strings and little Maxwell Hinton got to push the button on this:
Then you have the 6-year-old kid who, for his wish, wanted to meet Hellboy. Well, that's easy enough -- anybody can slap on a Hellboy costume and the kid would be thrilled. But the guy who actually played Hellboy in the movies -- Ron Perlman -- wanted to do it himself. And he wanted to go all the way -- he actually sat down and went through the four-hour-long makeup process so he'd have the exact look from the movies. The kid had to have felt some combination of elation and sheer terror.
He just stared at him like that for a solid hour. Didn't even blink.
This last one happened completely by accident, but I'm including it because it happens to be my most favorite photo of all time. In early 2012, the Pope went on a visit through Latin America, which, as you can imagine, is a big deal. You've seen on the news what these events are like -- massive crowds and parades and people screaming their heads off, as one does when face to face with the man who one believes is God's representative on earth. But during a parade in Mexico, just as the Pope's motorcade passed, Washington Post cameras captured this random dog trotting down the parade route ...
"For my first decree as emperor: All vacuum cleaners must be purged."
... soaking up the adulation and truly believing that the crowd of tens of thousands had gathered just to tell him he was a good dog.
Check out the look on his face. Every human should have a moment like that.
Completely Unrelated Bonus Video:
This hippo, which also happens to be quite the showman:
David Wong is the Executive Editor of Cracked.com and a NYT bestselling author, his long-awaited new novel is about cybernetic criminals and other futuristic shit like that. Pre-order it at Amazon, B&N, BAM!, Indiebound, iTunes, or Powell's. You can read the first seven chapters for free by clicking below:
For more from Dave, see 14 Photographs That Shatter Your Image of Famous People and 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women.