Yesterday afternoon I was doing what so many of you were doing , watching the news and feeling like my heart was broken in a million pieces. There are times when the grief is almost too huge to even contemplate, when you think of the vast and immense numbers, at least 91 dead and 20 of those children, including the seven who were found drowned at The Plaza Towers. You watch the news and see the obliteration, buildings and homes replaced by mud and water, the people sobbing on television as they explain to news reporters they no longer have a home, they can’t find their children.
When the horrible Boston Marathon bombings happened a little over a month ago, a quote was used in numerous news article from Fred Rogers:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
And the horrible devastation in Oklahoma is no different. There are helpers, going door to door and looking to make sure neighbors are safe. First responders who are there doing what they can to rescue people. Emergency workers who are digging through debris and using jackhammers to to tear away concrete to retrieve the bodies of missing children. And Anonymous who is organizing #OpOK.
Because I don’t live near Oklahoma I do what so many other people do. We watch the news and hug our own children extra tight and donate what we can to the Red Cross and sign on the Internet to try and connect with others, because when the grief and horror is too big we need that, we need to commiserate and console each other and try and make sense of the senseless. I signed on Twitter and expressed my sadness for the people of Oklahoma. And I am not there, but within moments I had two messages in my folder. One was from an Anonymous I started talking to during the Sandy Hook tragedy. The other was from an Anon who I hardly know, someone I have maybe exchanged one tweet with, a large account with tens of thousands of followers. And both messages said basically the same thing, I know this is awful. I am here for you. And I am nobody, this is not my tragedy because I am hundreds of miles away in my safe and sound home with my children safe and sound, and I am just a mom who can’t even begin to fathom the level of grief and terror so many parents in Oklahoma are feeling. But to these two Anonymous, that didn’t matter. My sadness did.
Almost anyone familiar with Anonymous will have different opinions about the group that isn’t even a group because there are no membership dues and no secret handshake and no requirements to join Anonymous. I have suggested before that anyone wanting to do their part to make the world better is Anonymous, but my definition is probably wrong too. To some people you ask they are computer hackers or “domestic terrorists” or these people in the Guy Fawkes masks who care about politics or the Occupy Movement or the collective gaggle of people who enjoy making life difficult for The Westboro Baptist Church. I think in many ways, Anonymous is what you are looking for, and if you are looking for hackers this is what you see. But as a mom I am usually looking for the helpers, and in Oklahoma and so many other places this is what they are.
Anonymous and #Amerisec has released this pastebin for people interested in the Oklahoma relief efforts. On twitter you can follow #OpOk for second-by-second updates on ways you can help if you are in the area or ways you can help if you aren’t. Because Anonymous is made up of people as diverse as you can contemplate, law enforcement, emergency workers, doctors, nurses, animal control workers, teachers and parents may be involved at any time. I think the only true operative is that anyone help in any way they are able.
Oklahoma is heartbreaking and beyond tragic. The helpers I have found are not only those I have seen on the news in yellow hats and safety vests, but those who have no name and no identity, and the only collective agreement that as humans on this planet we need to do anything we can to help. When horrible things like this happen we want and need superheroes, and we want to be able to help those who have lost so much for no other reason than the misfortunes of geography. The heroes are out there, not only in the uniforms of the police, firefighters and doctors, but wearing the masks of Guy Fawkes. From a mom, thank you Anonymous.
(Image: You Tube)