By Lisa Sugarman
I have enormous faith in mankind. I pretty much always have. The irony is that mankind hasn’t always deserved it. I mean, we still have war and poverty and double agents and bigotry and DEFCON levels, and the fact that those things still exist does rattle my faith from time to time. But because there’s also still so much that’s good and decent and beautiful around us, I’m compelled to keep giving humanity the benefit of the doubt. Because I have hope that eventually we’ll all be able to come together as a positive, unified force that eradicates all the negative stuff that’s still out there. At least that’s what happens at the end of all my favorite movies.
Now the way I see it, considering how historically inconsistent mankind has been, the fact that I have this confidence in people either makes me a royal idiot or an eternal optimist. Personally, I’d rather be labeled an optimist because it reads way better on a business card.
But I’ve been able to remain an idealist because, every now and then, I hear a story that reinforces this faith that I have. I read something or see something that proves to me that when people come together, good things can happen. And the more we do it, the better the world will be. I know that and you know that. Now I’m just waiting for everybody else to figure it out.
See, the majority of the stories we tend to hear are usually negative. And that’s because, statistically speaking, people care significantly more about the threat of bad things than they do about the prospect of good ones. According to Psychology Today contributor and author Ray B. Williams, our negative brain tripwires are far more sensitive than our positive triggers. And that’s why we tend to get more fearful than happy.
I mean, just look at something as simple as rubber-necking on the highway when there’s an accident. How many times have you been stuck on the Mass Pike in miles and miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic that was caused by nothing more than a fender-bender but 38,000 cars felt compelled to slow down out of nothing more than curiosity? That’s because people are somehow drawn to the bad things. And media studies have proven that bad news far outweighs good news by as much as seventeen negative news reports for every one good news report.
But it’s really the good stories, though, that we should be pulling into the foreground because those are the ones that make us all see how great people can really be.
And yes, all my talking here has, actually, been building up to something. I just happen to have the perfect little example of exactly that.
So my friend Tracy has a dog. Beckett. And he’s adorable. (Irrelevant and totally subjective detail, but worth mentioning simply because his cuteness, in my opinion, is too important to ignore.)
Tracy and her family ski in Vermont. And Beckett, devoted and loyal family dog that he is, always goes with them. But a couple of weeks ago, there was a little change to the standard family ski weekend. Tracy and a bunch of her besties, went down to Miami for a long weekend, while her husband Marc took the kids and the dog to Vermont to ski.
For about the first 24 hours, everything on both the Vermont end and the Miami end was working in perfect harmony. Mom was enjoying a little time away with her twin sister and their friends while dad was 1,600 miles north, riding the quad chair with the kids in the mountains.
Then, in the same way that cars tend to fall apart almost immediately after their warranty runs out, their weekend took a hairpin turn at about the 25-hour mark. And everything fell apart.
It happened on Saturday night, during the weekly fireworks display at the mountain. Beckett got himself spooked by the fireworks and took off. Like gone. Enter the turning point in the weekend when everything suddenly came apart at the seams.
Suffice it to say, my friend Marc exhausted every possible option to find Beckett. Shelters were called. Neighbors were told. Signs were posted. And a massive search and rescue effort was mobilized. The guy couldn’t possibly have done more than he did. And while he was calling in the reserves, my poor friend Tracy was helpless and distraught in her hotel room in South Beach.
Now you’re probably wondering why she was still in Florida at this point. Well that’s simple, because this was her once-a-year trip away with her girlfriends and her husband wouldn’t let her cut it short and rush up to Vermont. Which is exactly what she was desperate to do. He was confident Beckett would turn up. So he insisted she stay. The only problem was that Beckett didn’t turn up. One day turned into two and two into three. And by Martin Luther King Day, he was still missing. At that point, Tracy was climbing the walls.
That’s when the good side of humanity shifted into fifth gear. People everywhere came together and changed the course of the story. Friends and strangers came out of the woodwork and posted photos of Beckett all over the Internet. They called Vermont animal shelters and tweeted and Snapchatted their little brains out to help bring Beckett home.
The problem was that it didn’t seem like anything anyone was doing was getting them closer to finding Beckett. And that’s why, eventually, Tracy just couldn’t take it anymore and she left her girlies in Florida and flew home. Then drove directly from the airport straight to Vermont without even a bathroom break. (Girls have an amazing capacity to hold it in when the chips are down.)
When she got there, sadly, not much had changed. Beckett had been gone, in sub-zero temperatures, in the woods, for three days. And the weekend was over and everyone was going to have to leave Vermont and head home. Things were looking about as bleak as bleak things look. But that’s exactly when the power of people working together took over.
Thanks to all the networking and posters and chatter, another family at the mountain, almost complete strangers to my friends, spotted Beckett wandering around on an old access road. They had seen the missing dog signs and knew the whole story.
No one really knows how they did it, but the family lassoed Beckett like a baby calf and took him directly to Tracy and Marc. Proof that good things do happen to good people when other good people get involved
God I love a happy ending.
Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItisWhatitisColumn OR follow her blog at https://itiswhatitiscolumn.wordpress.com.