Help, Hope, and the Power of One Tweet in Brussels

Mar 25, 2016

This post is by Tracy Hoover, Points of Light's CEO.

Between my news feeds and my faith traditions, I’ve thought a lot this week about suffering and hope; darkness and light.

In recent months, images and accounts from every corner of our world have told of the horrific human suffering caused by war, poverty, hatred and injustice.

As word spread about the terrorist attacks on Tuesday, “not again” echoed across social media, giving voice to the all-too-familiar sense of despair and hopelessness many of us felt in that moment.

But in Brussels, just moments after the attacks, messages of help and hope filled the airways as people, some of them victims themselves, started helping each other, and the glow of candles lit the night.

I don’t think it’s coincidental that whenever terror or tragedy strikes, we come together and light candles. Literally and figuratively, we fight the darkness. We seek out and connect with the light in each other and in ourselves. And especially this week, I was struck by those images and by the acts and expressions of hope and solidarity they inspired. Here are a few:

Buried in the New York Times coverage of attacks was this quote: “There was a lot of humanity amid all the horror,” one woman said. “We received water. I was hungry, and a stranger offered me some nuts. People were helping each other.”

Social media powered a massive neighbor-to-neighbor response and hashtags like #OpenHouse and #PorteOuverte offered stranded victims a place to stay. And anyone who needed a ride, a meal or even a Wi-Fi connection could use #IkWilHelpen — “I want to help” in Dutch —to ask for and receive help from hundreds of people standing ready to help.

In multiple languages, hashtags like #PrayForBelgium and #JeSuisBruxelles captured the millions of messages of support that poured in from across the globe.

From a driver who provided a ride and set off a Twitter chain reaction of goodwill and offers of help. He later tweeted: “That ride yesterday. CRAZY how big the impact is of 1 tweet.” And when someone called him a hero, his response “I’m not a hero. If just everybody would do something kind for each other …”

"Des Volontaires"

I was surprised to hear a familiar voice from Brussels, NBA legend, fellow Atlantan and Points of Light Ambassador Dikembe Mutumbo, who was at Brussels Airport when Tuesday’s attacks took place. I love that Dikembe called the people who helped him “angels.” As someone who knows firsthand how much good Dikembe himself does, including through his Foundation, I’d guess he’s been called an angel more than once, and I’m certain he is a point of light.

Especially this week, I am praying for those who are suffering, and I am thankful for those who care.

Thank you for your service and for being points of light in our world.

Amanda Knowles