Good guys vs. bad guys

Mean people seem to be everywhere these days, unfortunately, which makes things difficult for natural optimists like me.

August 9, 2006 11:11
4 minute read.
computer cartoon 88

computer cartoon 88. (photo credit: )

People can be very mean, as anybody who lives in Haifa, Nahariya, Kiryat Shmona and a host of other towns can tell you. Big buncha terrorist brutes, those Hizbullah guys. Even optimists can have a tough time looking for the good in humanity when considering these characters. On the other hand, we have the brilliant, massive assistance effort undertaken by Israelis of every stripe to assist northerners beleaguered by Katyushas. People have fallen over themselves bringing much needed food, clothing, toys, candy and love to folks stuck in bomb shelters for weeks on end, as well as providing alternate residences for those who can't take the close quarters of a shelter anymore. What's more, help is pouring in not only from around the country, but around the world, with Jews and Christians uniting to make life a bit more tolerable for those on the front lines. Score one for the good guys - and the home team. On the other hand, the mean people of the world are not limited to the environs of our neighborhood. The World at War site ( lists no fewer than 40 major conflicts going on at this time, 12 of them "hot," with fighting dragging millions into homelessness, poverty and other bad stuff. Not an example of humanity at its best. Mean people seem to be everywhere these days, unfortunately, which makes things difficult for natural optimists like me. Instead of outreach and understanding, you get flag burning, nasty graffiti, catcalls and bombs. I hate to say it, but the situation almost makes one want to give up on the "inherent goodness" of humanity ( that we all like to believe is in there, somewhere (maybe way down deep, but still there). And then you come across a site like Qunu ( - and your doubts about the redemptive possibilities of the human race evaporate like the dew at the dawn of a bright, sunshiny morning. For Qunu is a site that takes people like me and you and turns them into virtual saints (well, virtual "good guys," at least) - bringing out the best in everyone, and restoring man (and woman) kind's reputation to the sterling status we so want it to have. In our wired world, there are lots of ways to get help on computer related projects - or, indeed, any kind of projects, from basket weaving to plumbing. All it takes is an Internet connection and a search engine, like Google, in your computer's browser window. But often you don't know what question to ask - and, just as often, you get a plethora of possible Web sites in response to your search engine query, requiring a significant time investment to investigate, compare and decide which advice - often contradictory - best fits your needs. So how do you figure out which way to go? Well, the next step is usually to call in an expert - something that can cost you additional time and money, both of which may be in short supply. Or, you could surf on down to the Qunu Web site and contact one of the nearly 2,000 volunteers awaiting an instant message from you regarding assistance in an area of their expertise! For the price of a free sign-up, you get access to the site's growing database (it's been up for barely two months and volunteers have already answered over 56,000 pleas for help) of experts, who are a shining example of how human beings can use their talents and abilities for good. Now, I may be an optimist, but I'm no fool - and just like you, I was extremely skeptical about the prospects of getting help from a total stranger, just because I needed it, without being at least solicited for payment. But no - Qunu definitely worked as advertised. I asked a question of a fellow I found in an expert search (actually, a question I already knew the answer to - I wanted to see just how expert the Qunu experts are), and we had a pleasant exchange about my question, Qunu and life in general. Looks like I made a new cyber-friend! Qunu's experts are geared toward "heavy" computing tasks, like Web site authoring, and "heavy" software, such as Photoshop. But there are plenty of experts in DVD authoring and MP3 creating and editing as well (it's best to search for a specific software package, like Dreamweaver, instead of a general category, like HTML). But there were a couple of experts on topics like love, food and even philosophy. Who said that computer folk weren't well-rounded? And most importantly, nobody asked for money - which means that Qunu is truly a community of do-gooders, in the best sense of the word. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: It's nice that Qunu can help people with their computer and love problems, but it's a bit cheeky to juxtapose that spirit of generosity with the human misery caused by war and hate. Agreed. But as we all know, change starts at the bottom, and maybe if we had a few more Qunu-type sites in the world, the spirit of generosity they represented would waft its way through to where it's needed most - in Lebanon, Darfur, Kashmir, etc. etc. [email protected]

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