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Posted: September 11, 2011

Essential good of the human soul on display

Today is a reminder of the glory of life and potential greatness in the human experience.

While millions remember the tragic events of the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks and other events of that ‘world-changing’ day, we here in the East Kootenay are experiencing the warm glow of something truly good happening.

Early this morning, under cover of darkness, three-year-old Kienan Hebert was returned to his Sparwood family home, apparently safe and sound.

It is the finest and best outcome that could be expected since this horrifying story first broke Sept. 7, when Kienan’s horrified parents realized their son had gone missing sometime in the night.

As people are wont to do, the least frightening, though still terrifying, scenario was first floated: Kienan has a history of sleepwalking. It was initially believe he may have wandered off in his sleep. Again, there would have been little comfort for his family if that was the case as Sparwood and area isn’t exactly a safe spot for a child to wander off in. It is the Rocky Mountains, after all.

But then a short time later, RCMP announced they had a suspect in mind and shortly after that, they stated that they believed Kienan had been abducted by a known offender who lived in the community, 46-year-old Randall Hopley.

A worst-case-scenario began to unfold in peoples’ minds and a new form of public support showed its face – social media.

Facebook and Twitter lit up with ‘re-posts’ and all sorts of commentary and photographs, which spread through the entire world, let alone the East Kootenay.

Along with the extensive media coverage given this modern monster story, the social media firestorm of information sharing made it impossible for Hopley, or whoever it was who abducted young Kienan, to go anywhere.

The airwaves and cyberspace became an ever-tightening band that, along with the commendable efforts of the RCMP, military (we are sure that Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks is to be thanked for that) and a small legion of volunteer searchers, probably made it impossible for the abductor to breath.

A plea made by Kienan’s father, Paul, to the abductor to just drop his son off at a gas station and walk away, also appeared to work – this time. Police would tell you that such pleas rarely work. It was a last ditch attempt to strike reason and sympathy into the heart of the abductor, and say what we will about such a monster, he/she obviously has a small corner of their heart and soul untainted by demons.

So this fine, beautiful Sunday morning in the mountains, is all the more special as prayers have been answered and the best possible outcome of a potentially despairing matter is realized. Sparwood has been through too much in the past few years. A worst-case scenario would have settled over the town and this region like a damp wool pall.

Anger and mistrust would have exploded forth. Randall Hopley’s life would be in extreme danger and his best bet at survival would have been to hand himself into the police, if he had anything to do with it or not, as that must still be proven by police.

But the abductor, in the end, did the right and best thing and let this poor little fellow go back to the warmth and love of his family.

And many thousands of people have shed tears of joy this morn, as they awoke to learn about this best of outcomes.

Throughout this ordeal, the best of human nature has been on display to counter the potentially worst form of human behaviour. People travelled to Sparwood from hundreds of miles away to join in the search and, from around the world, people chimed in on Twitter and Facebook, and via email, to spread the word and try, in their own individual ways, to box the abductor in and force him to do the right thing.

That and prayers worked this time.

The RCMP, despite the knock on them for failing to get the Amber Alert out to nearby Alberta, did an excellent job in the last few days and they deserve a heartfelt thank you from all of us. We must remember that many of these men and women have children – some were probably traumatized by doing the inevitable comparisons to their own situations, as so many of us have done the last few days. It is natural to think, ‘what is that happened to us? To our child or grandchild?’

Because this almost miraculous outcome has occurred today, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it elevates the sense of ‘what good humans can achieve’ in the light of the ultimate darkness.

The world’s heart opened, briefly, to America on that day and we all shared in that nation’s sorrow. Six degrees of separation meant the tragedies were felt far and wide, in many nations. While the events of 9/11 tore apart the norms of our world societies and threw us into a pit of rampant paranoia and hyper-suspicion, we also witnessed countless examples of the finest elements of the human experience, when firefighters cast aside thoughts of themselves and raced headlong into a disaster of, at that point, unimagined proportion.

Every disaster brings out that shining element of the human experience.

From a major event like 9/11, which still resonates today, to an individual horror story in a small B.C. mountain town, we humans shine when the potential outcome appears to be at its darkest.

We got lucky today. The Hebert family got lucky today. Their prayers were heard. The prayers of thousands of others were heard. And we were all reminded that hope and love remain the mightiest and purest parts of the human experience.

Enjoy this day everyone. It is a special one.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW


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