You should hear the stories.

My G-d, if only you heard some of the stories.

The mother who punched her small child in the chest. The father who threw his daughter down a flight of stairs. The man who has nightmares, decades later, about the counselor in camp who violated him. Women who are afraid the moment their husband comes home from work. Newborn babies in intensive care, detoxing from their mother’s drug use. Toddlers left home alone for hours at a time. The ACS calls. Restraining orders. The heartache. The tears.

There are tragic stories everywhere, but there is no escaping the varying shades of sadness when you work in the mental health field.

People aren’t running to therapists to talk about the good stuff–at least, not initially.

It can be incredibly difficult to think of the world around us as a good and happy place when you see and hear so many examples of your fellow human beings, of those in your very own community, abusing, hurting, and neglecting other humans–day after day after day. Difficult–and disheartening.

But here’s the thing (and it is so easy to forget, but so important to remember): For every terrible story out there, there are countless great ones.

For every parent who mistreats a child, there is a myriad of tender mothers, and loving fathers. For every teacher who abuses power and takes advantage of a student – there are so many devoted, caring educators who spend their days ensuring the success and happiness of their students. For every heartbreaking story, there are breathtaking others that are laced with kindness and concern. And for every “terrible” person you hear about or encounter, there are “wondrous” others–good people, giving people. The unsung heroes who never get the credit or recognition they so rightfully deserve–or ever ask for.

You should hear the other stories, the good ones.

Like the one about the Rabbi who was approached by a young, unmarried mother who wanted her newborn baby to have a Jewish name. The baby’s grandparents refused to recognize the newborn child’s very existence, because his father wasn’t Jewish. And yet this Rabbi, practically a stranger, embraced this baby, made a bris in his own shul and gave him a name. And he accepted the well wishes of mazel tov as if the baby was his very own grandchild.

Or the story about the elderly woman whose neighbors died and left behind a son with developmental disabilities, with no one to care for him. And this woman, this kind, selfless woman, took their son under her care and accompanied him to appointment after appointment, agency after agency, advocated on his behalf and sat at his bedside throughout several surgeries, never once asking for monetary compensation or applause.

There are other stories too. Like the foster families with busy lives and children of their own, who open up their homes and their hearts to children who had been through violent abuse and/or silent neglect. There are the foster children themselves, who grow up to become well-adjusted, caring and happy adults, despite their trauma.

There are teachers who are lifelines to students with difficult homes, and community members who privately take on cases when there is simply no one else–providing food, shelter, even employment, to struggling members of the community.

There is still so much good. There is kindness, and generosity.

Yes, abuse, cruelty and tragedy do exist, and it is important to speak up and to hear those stories, those horrors that turn your stomach and show you the depths of human depravity.

But at the same time, it is also important to seek out and to speak of those brilliant flashes of light. Because those are the very stories that give victims the most hope, and humanity a sense of compass.

Goodness is there; it always was. We just need to open our eyes and see it.

Shaindy Urman is an Intake Coordinator at OHEL Family and Children’s Services. She can be reached at