Tragedy has a way of bringing people together and producing durable bonds, often shaping and directing people to new missions. Over again we see survivors of extreme situations and events take on news roles with great fervor, reentering the fray with a resolve to help others find hope as they make their way through difficult times.
In this episode, I have the privilege of sharing my conversation with one such individual, former Army Chaplain Justin Roberts of Echo Bravo Productions and the co-host and producer of the web series Do Good. Do Good is a new web series focused on telling the stories of real people and real helpers who put their resources to work for the hurricane-battered citizens of the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
As I sit to reflect on my conversation with Justin, it's not lost on me that Memorial Day is approaching, which is also a sign for many weather-weary that hurricane season is upon us once again. Normally, these two things would have no relationship with each other, but the trauma and remaining PTSD of war and natural disaster have come together in a unique way in Justin Roberts and his documentaries.
In our conversation, Justin shares candidly the pain and beauty of his experiences as a wartime Army Chaplain in Afghanistan and reveals how a meaningful encounter with a fellow soldier, his co-host for the Do Good series, created a durable bond that helped each find ways to find hope again, offering the veterans a clarity of purpose in a shifting culture, and open space to speak truthfully and freely about their experiences.
It was clear in our visit, and from watching the Do Good series, that Justin has found great value in connecting people to something good, something hopeful, something that reminds them of the best side of humanity. Justin goes so far as to say he has become an expert in finding hope, which he deems critical to his mental health and survival. Considering what Justin and his co-host have witnessed—a microcosm of war and despair that those of us living in safety, comfort, and abundance can barely imagine—it is an inspiration to bear witness as they use their skills to make peace and grow personally while not deleting or repressing some of the most painful experiences humans can endure.
This conversation is a timely Memorial Day reminder that there are servicemen and women, right now, living in the churn, and many won't come home. It is also a reminder that many of my fellow citizens along the battered and blue-tarp-covered Louisiana Gulf Coast are holding their breath, watching the radar, hoping and praying for a reprieve that may or may not come this hurricane season.
It would be my advice to watch Justin Roberts right now, and his Do Good web series and look for a reminder of that hope, that good news, that everyone is holding out for.
Now, it's time to forget about all the things that divide us and tear us apart, and pay attention to people that, in spite of burdens, pain, and odds, turn their attention to helping others, then press play on a little good news.