It was heartbreaking to read in the June 30 Maine Sunday Telegram of the misery and prospect of death sustained by so many of the Congolese refugees seeking a new life in the United States and, specifically, Portland. It was heart-affirming to read in the same edition of the enormous outpouring of help and goodwill offered by thousands of Mainers.

A quote by the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould is apt here, from an op-ed he wrote for The New York Times in the wake of 9/11:

“We may reaffirm an essential truth too easily forgotten, and regain some crucial comfort too readily forgone. Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. … Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the ‘ordinary’ efforts of a vast majority.”

This quote can also bring comfort in the age of Donald Trump.

Barbara Doughty


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