KEEPING OUR FAITH IN PEOPLE
It’s absolutely vital to keep our faith…in ourselves, in each other, in people in general. If we lose it, if we become cynical, negative doubters and full-time critics, we lose big time – and ultimately, we lose ourselves.
But faith, like trust, can be fragile and fleeting. There are so many “pulls” in the opposite direction. Many of us have been appalled by recent events; by man’s inhumanity to man, by acts of “terror” that run the gamut from creating wholesale mayhem to…committing unthinkable, heinous acts.
Some people have even begun to “root for” people to be mean, to be selfish and to turn the other cheek – or ear – when someone in their path lies broken or dispirited. And just move on.
Then they can be “right about how wrong it is” and say, “See? That’s how people are today! That’s how it is. No one gives a rip about others anymore. You can’t really count on anyone.” Or, as I overheard recently from a man on the train, “I’ve just stopped believing in people. It’s not worth it. All they care about is themselves. That’s just the way it is.”
But then what? If we lose our faith in people, in their goodness, their humanity, their caring… What do we have left? Bitterness? Resignation? Cynicism?
And here’s a fact: On the whole, we get what we expect in life. Ultimately, we find what we look for. If we look for selfishness, we find it; for man’s inhumanity to man? We find it.
So what can we do? We can do a lot. It probably won’t be one thing that will change the world overnight. More likely it will be a lot of small things, things that we can do every day – things that will change us; change the world and restore our faith in each other…little by little.
And here’s the good news: There are a lot of good people out there already doing it - the good stuff, that is. Maybe you’re one of them…
Here’s a story I heard on CNN this morning: A woman lost her wallet. She had almost a hundred dollars in it and was a single mother with three children to take care of. She was beside herself. But not for long. Within an hour, a young man knocked on her door and said simply, “Don’t worry, I found your wallet!” and handed it to her. It was completely intact down to the last penny and credit card. The woman told him he was wonderful. “I bet you’d do the same thing,” he said. “Of course, I would and I will!” she said,smiling. “Especially after meeting you!”
But there are wonderful stories everywhere. Here are a few I chose from an article in The Reader’s Digest entitled “24 Stories About the Touching Kindness of Strangers That’ll Make You Tear Up.” I think you’ll like them…
The Christmas Story
By Donna Kachnowski, Lebanon, Connecticut
“In January 2006, a fire destroyed a family’s home. In that fire were all the
belongings of a six-year-old boy, including his Christmas presents. A classmate
from his school who had a birthday around then asked her parents if she could
give all her gifts to the boy. That act of kindness will forever warm my heart
because the boy is my grandson.”
The Man in the Market
By Leslie Wagner, Peel, Arkansas
“When the supermarket clerk tallied up my groceries, I was $12 over what I had on
me. I began to remove items from the bags, when another shopper handed me a
$20 bill. “Please don’t put yourself out,” I told him. “Let me tell you a story,” he
said. “My mother is in the hospital with cancer. I visit her every day and bring her
flowers. I went this morning, and she got mad at me for spending my money on
more flowers. She demanded that I do something else with that money. So, here,
please accept this. It is my mother’s flowers.”
I Can Still Help
By Mohammed Basha, Gainesville, Florida
“As I walked through the parking lot, all I could think about was the dire diagnosis
I had handed my patient Jimmy: pancreatic cancer. Just then, I noticed an
elderly gentleman handing tools to someone working under his stalled car. That
someone was Jimmy. “Jimmy, what are you doing?” I yelled out. Jimmy dusted
off his pants. “My cancer didn’t tell me not to help others, Doc,” he said, before
waving at the old man to start the car. The engine roared to life. The old man
thanked Jimmy and drove off. Then Jimmy got into his car and took off as
well. Take-home message: Kindness has no limits and no restrictions.”
And here’s my favorite…
21 Apples From Max
By Dr. Donald Stoltz, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“When my grandson Max told his mother, Andrea, to donate any check she would
give him for his 21st birthday, Andrea got an idea. She handed Max’s brother
Charlie a video camera. Then she took out 21 $10 bills from the bank and bought
21 apples at the supermarket. When they spotted a homeless man, Andrea told
him, “Today is my son Max’s 21st birthday, and he asked me to give a gift to
someone to help him celebrate.” She handed the man a $10 bill and an apple. The
man smiled into the camera and announced, “Happy birthday, Max!” Soon, they
passed out their booty to men and women waiting in line at a soup kitchen. In a
unified chorus, they wished Max, “Happy birthday!” At a pizza parlor, Andrea left
$50 and told the owners to feed the hungry. “Happy birthday, Max!” they
shouted. With one last $10 bill and apple, they stopped at Andrea’s sister’s office.
Unable to contain her laughter or her tears, she bellowed into the camera,
“Happy birthday, Max!”
I bet you have a story of your own – either about your “doing a good thing” for someone else or someone else doing it for you. Now’s the time to talk about it and listen to other people’s “doing a good thing” stories.
And make no mistake. There are all sorts of good people out there, doing good things – little and big – alone and with each other. They all count. And they all add up.
A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to The 242nd United States Marine Corps’s Birthday Celebration aboard the aircraft carrier, “Intrepid.” It was magnificent. There were many moving speeches about love of honor, duty and yes, faith. And I was brought to tears by the the United States Marine Corps Drum & Bugle Corps. They were absolutely magnificent. I’ve never seen such conviction, such devotion, such dedication, such faith in a cause, such belief and pride in each other as I saw on those hundreds of Marines’ faces. It was nothing short of heart warming and heart-stirring.
And then I remembered the Marine Corps motto: Semper Fidelis: “Always Faithful.”
We live in a wonderful country with wonderful people. We are not perfect. But we are good. It’s time to remember and demonstrate what we’re made of. To be there for each other – in little and big ways; to expect and celebrate the best in each other.
And to keep the faith.
Please send me your “Keeping the Faith” stories to share with our readers. I know it will mean a lot to them – and help inspire all of us to “be there.” And that would be a very good thing. Hey, maybe together we can change the world…