On Saturday afternoon in Paris, 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama, a refugee from Mali, was on his way to watch a soccer game at a pub when he noticed a crowd pointing and yelling. He looked up to see a small child dangling from a balcony four stories up.
What happened next has people from around the world calling Mamoudou a “real-life Spiderman.”
He was able to climb onto a door, and then jump up to grasp the railing on a first-story balcony. Then he propelled himself up to the second, and third, and fourth floors — where he pulled the child to safety. It took him less than 30 seconds to scale four stories with his bare hands. (Watch the amazing footage here.)
This morning Mamoudou was invited to the palace to meet with French president Emmanuel Macron, where he was granted a medal for his bravery, promised French citizenship, and offered a job with the Paris fire brigade.
While all the accolades are well-deserved, in his interviews Mamoudou has been incredibly humble. When a reporter asked Mamoudou if he had been afraid during his heroic climb, he said, “I did not think of the floors…I did not think of the risk. I did it because it’s a child.”
There are other news stories this morning.
Politicians are lying and arguing and making absurd power grabs.
ICE agents are stealing kids — more than 1500 children have been separated from their parents at the border, and no one knows where they are.
A man arraigned on multiple charges of sexual assault, including first-degree rape, is out on bail because he’s famous — and rich enough to post a $1 million bail.
God almighty. My heart hurts.
I’m overwhelmed by the anger and greed and hate and injustice that infests this planet we all call home.
But I’m reminded this morning that there’s hope. Not in systems and institutions and political structures.
But in individuals.
Because, like Mamoudou Gassama, we have the ability to look around, to see the world through the lens of love, to hear the cries of people in distress, to take action in situations because we care about another’s well-being more than our own.
We have the ability to love our neighbors, to offer hospitality to immigrants and refugees, to care for orphans, to insist on justice for those who have been unfairly treated and falsely accused.
We don’t get to sit around waiting to see hope.
No, my friends, it’s up to us to be hope to people clinging to the edges of our frayed world, just about to fall.