The news out of Turkey and Syria is horrific. The death toll keeps climbing into the tens of thousands and even more people are suffering from hunger, exposure, and impossible grief.

Safe and comfortable here in North Carolina it’s tempting to simply look away from this situation that leaves me feeling helpless and ineffective. And yet, over the weekend, I listened to a radio report from ground zero. The reporter was at a hospital in Turkey (maybe the only one??) that was overflowing with people in desperate need.

He told the story of a man who dragged himself from the rubble, freed his family, and then drove 100 miles to get his wife to the hospital where she could be treated for broken ribs. He was able to find some food, which he loaded in the truck, and was about to head back to his hometown. The reporter asked him how he was doing.

And this is where I was utterly stunned. Not to mention shamed.

“I’m the happiest man in the world,” he said. He went on to add, joyfully, that he was able to rescue his grandchildren and now has the capacity to help other people.

And because of this, he’s the happiest man in the world. Happier than I am. Probably happier than you are. Why? Because the very worst thing possible happened. And he survived it. His family survived it. And now he’s helping other people who survived it. Family. Community. Compassion. All in the midst of one of the worst disasters in decades.

A flame burning brightly in a dark, dark place. And if I’d given in to the urge to look away, I would have missed it.