The worst conditions bring out the best in people.
Last weekend, East Central Illinois and much of the Midwest endured a blizzard followed by brutally cold weather that shut down schools, closed roads and pretty much made prisoners of people in their homes. That, unfortunately, was the least of it. The people in real jeopardy were those caught out in the weather and in need of assistance.
It's during times like that when cynics are reminded of the essential goodness of most people and their willingness to lend a hand to people in need.
Volunteers at the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen went out of their way to make sure that hungry people were fed. Members of the Eagle Mountain Assembly of God in Tuscola provided shelter to roughly 80 people who found themselves trapped on impassable roads, including the Southern Illinois University men's basketball team. Then there were untold individuals who helped single individuals who were in trouble, like the Ohio trucker, Mike Janke, who came to the rescue of a state snowplow driver, William Argus, stuck on his way to work.
There's no need to be Pollyannish about it. People were just doing what their hearts and the weather conditions commanded.
But Champaign resident Argus spoke for many when he expressed gratitude to his rescuer. Diverted off I-74 and then trapped on an impassable U.S. 150, Argus took shelter in Janke's well-stocked semi.
"It was Alaska-type of weather. The man saved my life. There are good people out there," Argus said.
Indeed, there are. The problem is that it often takes some sort of tragedy or weather disaster to serve as a reminder.
The weather outside was frightful, and inside it wasn't all that delightful. But our collective brush with the power of Mother Nature and the danger that it posed did provide a useful reminder that people are at their best when they work together in difficult conditions for the common good.