Two stories in Parade Magazine this past weekend were a study in contrasts. The first one was about Flash Mobs that have gone from gatherings to do something silly and fun, to looting and violence parties. These gatherings started in about 2003 when young folks – and some older ones – used social media to suggest getting together to do something outrageous. One of the first was people riding the subway in New York in just their underwear. Silly, but harmless.
But more recently the flash mobs have gone beyond harmless. The riots in London this summer were started by a flash mob, and the city of Philadelphia has a curfew now following the vandalism and looting at a Macy’s store this summer.
According to the article in Parade, police departments are now monitoring social sites in the hopes of discovering plans for outbreaks so they can intervene.
How sad that what started out as just fun had to take such a downturn.
In contrast, there was a story about former U.S. Army Sgt. Adam Burke who found a unique way to recover from the physical and emotional damage caused when he was shot in Iraq. Burke suffered from a severe brain injury, PTSD, and a ruptured ear drum that left him unable to maintain his balance without a cane.
Two years after he came home from the hospital, he and his wife moved to his family farm in Florida, where they were given a few acres. He spent his days preparing the land, planting blueberry bushes and caring for them. After about a year he noticed that his balance had returned. So had some small measure of peace. That’s when he decided he would offer the same opportunity to other veterans as they came home. He invited men and women to come on weekends and help with the care and harvesting.
By 2010, the enterprise was so successful, Burke decided to expand. He acquired funds from Work Vessels for Veterans, a non-profit that helps former military personnel start a new business, and bought eight more acres.
The farm has really been a godsend for returning veterans who need the healing power of working in the sun and connecting with living, growing things. Not to mention the support they find as they can share their stories with men and women who truly do know what they have been through.
Kudos to Sgt. Burke.