Ignore the Politicians and Immortalize This Dad

For those who are wise enough to look beyond the posturing of politicians and the hot takes of Twitter keyboard warriors in the hours and days following a tragedy like what occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night, there are almost as many encouraging, moving, and powerful testimonies of human goodness, love, self-sacrifice, and courage that emerge. How much wiser, how much better we are when we focus on those stories.

Stories like Taylor Benge, the young man who told CNN that his experience in that explosive moment in time turned him from an agnostic into a full-fledged believer in the providence and protection of an Almighty God who cares:

“I was agnostic going into that concert and I’m a firm believer in God now,” Benge told CNN on Monday morning. “Because there’s no way that all of that happened and that I made it and I was blessed enough to still be here alive talking to you today.”

Stories like Heather Gooze, the young bartender who refused to leave the side of a dying man that she’d never met, holding his hand in his final moments so he wasn’t alone, answering his phone to comfort his family and friends as she told them the difficult news:

Jordan’s mom called again and they talked through tears. “She asked if he was okay and I said no he’s not okay. And she asked if he’s dead. And I said yes. I was holding his hand. I’m not going to leave him.” Gooze learned about the young man she had known for mere minutes—how he earned his childhood nickname of Blimpy “because he was a blimp when he was little.” She learned about the tattoos, what a nice a boy he was, what an amazing girlfriend he had. He was days away from his 24th birthday.

Stories like Mike McGarry, the 53-year-old father who was at the concert with his 20-something children who demonstrated that no matter how old your children are, they are always yours to protect. When the shots ran out, McGarry instinctively grabbed his children, threw them under him and shielded them with his body:

“It was crazy–I laid on top of the kids. They’re 20. I‘m 53. I lived a good life,” McGarry said. Reuters reported the back of McGarry’s shirt bore the footmarks of those who had ran over him in the panicked crowd.

In the days to come, as commentators and politicians give us all their pseudo-solutions to how we can prevent acts of evil with new laws and tighter regulations, let’s choose to ignore their noise and instead promote these powerful stories. Overcoming evil with good means celebrating, championing, and commending those worthy of honor – those our world needs more of – like Taylor, Heather, and Mike.

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Peter Heck

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