You’ve Got to Have Hart-man

Lately I have obsessively been watching CBS journalist Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” videos.  Originally airing on the Friday edition of the “CBS Evening News,” Hartman’s segments emphasize the notion that good is inherent in nearly every person, that inside each one of us is the capacity to show grace towards one another.

After a daily diet of negative news ranging from Covid variants to nightmarish scenarios about the earth’s demise, “On the Road” is the antidote to despair.  Seeing how kind and decent people can be to one another provides oxygen to the soul.

He and his producer find the most touching stories across America, of people who have lost loved ones or the will to live, only to discover hope often through the kindness of strangers. 

Rarely can one watch his videos without tearing up and feeling good about fellow Americans.

Every weekday when my wife and I have lunch together, I can’t wait to share with her a new favorite Steve Hartman “On the Road” video. 

There are stories of student athletes who come up with ways to include kids who never have a chance to shine in a game such as a special needs boy given the ball to end a basketball game from the opposing team.

The restaurant owner who hires recovering addicts because everyone deserves a second chance.

There is a man whose right hand was damaged by an abusive father so he learned to play the piano with his left, leading to his first ever concert in his 70’s.

There are the police officers who help pay for an elderly man’s rose bouquet for his wife, one of the few moments the man’s memory breaks through his Alzheimer’s haze.

A stranger who comes across a soldier’s army uniform in a dumpster propelling her on a two-year hunt to return it to the surviving family, providing a tender memento for the son left behind.

There is the story of a 15-year-old wrestler who strives to win a state championship before his father loses his life to cancer.

A terminally ill mother who asks her nurse to adopt her son, leaving behind gifts for the birthdays she will miss.

For me, it makes me feel more human, reminding me of the type of person that I am at the same time guiding me towards the person I could become.

“On the Road” serves as a weekly sermon encouraging all of us to find the moments where we can reveal our deepest humanity to the most unlikely stranger.

What threads through all of these stories is the tenderness of its reporter.  Steve Hartman is a gentle listener, genuinely moved with each and every story.  He could not have been given a more apt last name.

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