1,000 Words: The escalator

These days, we’ll take a little hopefulness anywhere we can find it, and if you’ve been reading the comments since last week’s court decision in St. Paul, we can use a little hopefulness.

Paula Accorsi Picard provided it with a photo she took at a mall in Holyoke, Mass., recently.

“It was a normal, simple thing that a lot of people do in the world and it just never gets seen,” Alonzo Johnson, 23, tells the Boston Globe today of his act of kindness helping an old man on and off an escalator. “When I found out, I was in shock. The whole attention and everything that it got, it just grew so fast.”

“My mom always told me and my little brothers that if you see someone who needs help, you should assist them and just go for it,” he said. “You never know who is watching you; you never know what’s going to happen. You’ve just got to keep doing the right thing and staying positive.”

  • kevins


  • Barton

    I shared this photo and the story on Facebook earlier this week.

    The comments back amazed me: why did the person take the photo? why didn’t anyone else help? and a few straight out comments stating the whole thing must be staged.

    We’ve really become a jaded society, haven’t we? This young man helped preserve the dignity of the older man. That should be replicated by more people.

    • There’s a meanness and an anger in online comments right now that I haven’t seen in 9 years of doing NewsCut. People’s default setting increasingly is to jump to conclusions, outrage, and offensive criticism. I’ ve never seen anything quite like it.

      • Jerry

        Some people have been emboldened recently. Others have become angry when they have lost hope that world is becoming a better place. At least that is my theory.

        • jon

          and this makes it all the media’s fault because… ?

          • Jerry

            I blame the illuminati and the lizard-people.

      • Kassie

        My city council member has said the same thing. Allies are jumping all over each other in our ward over things like bike lanes.

      • MrE85

        Well, that photo melted my mean, angry heart. Mr. Johnson’s mom should be proud of him. We all should be proud of him.

  • lusophone

    This picture and the commentary from the facebook posting brings a tear to my eye. But this very reaction gives me pause and conflict. I hope I am not contributing to the cesspool of negative commentary Bob and Barton referred to, but I feel like I have to put this out there.

    The overwhelmingly positive reaction to this picture feels like a symptom of our race problem. Why is it so extraordinary that this guy has been raised right by his mother that he would help an elderly man who needs it? Isn’t it the equivalent to the comment, “She’s/he’s so articulate.”?

    • It’s hopeless. It’s all hopeless. Give up, everyone. We’re done.

      • lusophone

        : ) Certainly an understatement to say we have a big problem. I don’t have the answers, but I am interested in self-reflection and closer examination of what’s going on today. I find this Chris Rock quote very interesting:

        “So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.”

  • lindblomeagles

    Back on June 7, a young white woman from Indiana helped a blind African American man hail a cab after a Cubs’ game in Chicago. Like this individual, the act of kindness went viral too. Hope is always in excess, even when things seem darkest. It was hope that formed the United States of America, ended slavery, expanded the right to vote, recognized all people regardless of race, gender, creed, national origin, or religion had civil rights. But darkness is in excess too. Darkness invented the African Slave Trade, destroyed Native American culture and its women and children, gave rise to Adolf Hitler and the loss of 6 million Jews, and has created the negative energy we feel in America today. Whether you believe in God or not; whether you believe in people or not; mankind’s inner angel is constantly tested by mankind’s inner demon, and both provide lessons for mankind to learn from. It was those lessons that motivated Alonzo Johnson (age 23) in Holyoke and Casey Spelman (age 26) in Chicago find their inner angels. Now, it is up to us to advocate for inner angels everywhere.