A recent, but dear friend of mine was lamenting on her blog about the sorry state of affairs in the world today. What with gang warfare, sexual predators and lethal religious fanaticism gracing the headlines day in and day out, is it any wonder that even the most light hearted can get discouraged? Although it is true that I don’t really have time to post comments on the many blogs I read everyday, it is also true that when compelled to do so, I’ll make the time. Such was the case tonight.
I felt an overwhelming urge to write a response. Not the kind of compulsion I may get when I read something that I strongly agree or disagree with, not the knee-jerk reaction I get when I read something idiotic, not even the type of calling that comes with sudden and brilliant enlightenment. No, this was different though no less intense. It was more like offering someone my hand to help them get up. More instinct than intellect, it was a default reaction and looking back, I kind of wonder where that came from.
My response did not say she was wrong or mistaken – she’s not. It was not an attempt to sugarcoat anything – there is no way to put a positive spin on the ugliness humanity has produced. It was an attempt to give her hope. The kind of hope that comes from realizing that, as brutish as the world is at times, it is full of good too. I pointed to some of the more recent icons of decency and the humility they possessed as they did their work without need for recognition, though many received more than they bargained for and sometimes paid for it with their lives. And the world is a better place today.
There are those too that we will never hear of. The soup kitchen volunteer, the doctors providing free services on their weekends in under-funded, under-staffed and unknown clinics in every inner city. There are those that donate to charities, provide foster care and shelter battered women. And there are those that lead by example - they do the right thing not because they have to or are supposed to, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
I told her:
So how do we change the world? Easy! How about from the inside out - one person at a time. Take the moral high road and others will follow. Learn from Dana Reeves who honored a vow most don't - "...in sickness and in health." Look to Cal Ripken, Jr. whose work ethic quietly gained him the consecutive game record in pro baseball without steroids. Look to the thousands upon thousands who volunteer in soup kitchens, donate blood or even their organs and provide services to those that cannot afford them.
The world is not such a bad place; it just seems that way sometimes. For every tragedy, there are ten blessings - perhaps more and it's not hard to find them. You, Barbara, are a miracle, a blessing incarnate. How do I know? Because you care and it shows. It bothers you to see suffering. You want to change the world. What I’m telling you is that you already have.
And if you're still reading this, I say the same to you – you already have.