Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Citizenship in Action

I received an email yesterday, written by a woman who lives in our town. Her 19 year old son was killed in a car accident a few months back, and it has been terribly hard on the family. He was a great kid. A great example, well liked by everyone, religious, everything you could imagine.

So what was her email about? Complaining of the unfairness of the universe? Feeling she deserved something in return? Nope. She wrote to ask her friends to help someone else. To help another human being in need. You see, there's a small shop nearby that's going out of business. He's got quite a bit of inventory, and less than a week to sell it before he closes up.

She had ventured out (which is difficult in itself still) to buy some gifts, and discovered that the owner had his own share of sadness with having to close down. By herself, there wasn't much she could do. But she was writing to ask those she knew to stop by, and spend a few dollars each to help the business owner to make the closing less painful.

What would our country be like if more people took it upon themselves to help others, rather than insisting that the government make up for our misfortunes? One person can't always do a lot. But one community can ease burdens, lend a hand, and make a difference when we know and care about each other. What could one country could do with the proper focus on a common goal?


Kelly said...

John showed me the email sent by this woman and asked if I would make a point to buy a few things from the shop. At the counter the owner said that he heard about an email that had gone out. He asked if I had received such an email. I gave him a blank stare. He said, either way, thank you for all your help.

I told him I would miss having his shop in our town. There is not another one like it for miles.

As I left the shop I slipped on the ice just outside the door. I looked back to make sure he hadn't seen me slip. Tears began to fall from my eyes, but it wasn't because I had fallen but because I was overcome by how good this all felt.

Phelonius said...

Well, this story I am going to tell is going to sound self-serving. I cannot help that because of the nature of the events, but the emphasis is on a comment that I heard just yesterday.

I met met an old colleague at the University yesterday and we were talking political and moral philosophy (whaddya expect at a Liberal Arts University??) At any rate, I mentioned that for several years now we have been financially supporting a fine young man that lives in Nicaragua. I told him that we could not do much, but we felt that at least that contribution would be worthy and well worth the effort.

He said something I have been thinking about since then. He said "What if every single human being did their best to help another single human being? That would mean billions of human beings helping billions of other human beings. What could our world look like if we all did that?"

The milk of human kindness is nothing less than our future and no more than could be expected.

Kelly said...

James, what is self serving about what you said? It is a good example of the idea presented here.

Phelonius said...

Well, I do not mean to present myself as some kind of saint or shining example. We participate in that ministry because it just seemed to me and my wife that it was a good thing to do.

Kelly said...

Regardless, your example was appreciated.