Twice within a week I received messages about sharing some good stories, so I am taking the hint. The first message was from a dear friend who lives halfway around the world and often seems to know more about what is going on here in the US than I do. He told me that all they ever hear about America in the general news are grim reports about politics. He wonders about some good news stories, things that go on about positive progress, good deeds and projects, and more. He suggested a blog in this vein. I think about how spring is coming here while he looks at signs of fall. Spring is always good here.
The second message was an article in a recent issue of Time magazine. “Choose your stories well” suggests we are unnerved by all that is going on, that “we exist in a place where all the problems of the universe are present… We only think of the inadequacy of what we alone can do.”
So, I decided to write about some scattered positive happenings. They are all around us all the time. What has particularly struck me lately are the small events I learn about that involve one person helping another and, especially when these helpers are also receiving help themselves because of age and physical issues. Their stories are bittersweet, yet full of the joy of people assisting others regardless of their own circumstances. We feel better when we can make another’s day a bit brighter regardless of our own circumstances.
One person who is in an assisted living facility with her own troubles, is frequently helping other residents by checking on them, sharing some fruit a friend drops by, and more.
Another person, recovering from a bad fall that caused multiple injuries (and happens to have a magical way with words) is still struggling with disability after several months. She recently wrote:
“I spoke with another patient at the hand clinic yesterday - a man with a scary-looking splint on his right hand. I asked him if he was right-handed. ‘I used to be,’ was his reply.
I felt instant empathy with him. Your hand is yourself in so many ways. It does everything. It sustains you. It expresses you. It makes love. It helps you feel the world around you. Losing it, harming it - that's painful emotionally, not just physically.
We had a nice exchange, two strangers caring for each other. It's amazing how fast sympathy, empathy, concern for each other can arise between strangers - it's a wonderful capacity in human beings. That thought warms me today, and I know this has happened to you over and over too.”
A touching story I read about the other day involves an anonymous homeless man who left some motherless puppies along with a note at the door of the closed animal shelter. The town is about forty-five minutes from where I live. Part of the note reads:
"Please help! I found these puppies sadly after noticing a local stray dog that I would often feed when I could, dead by the road. She had been hit by a car. I knew from feeding her that she had puppies somewhere and after searching … I found them… My heart shatters for them and their mother. I just want them to be given the chance their mother, like myself, was never given. Please do not think poorly of me but it felt wrong leaving them alone in the cold waiting on a mother that would not be coming home.
Sincerely, nameless man”
The shelter put it well when they wrote to the “nameless man” about this on their Facebook page, “Your empathy in the face of adversity gives us hope and inspiration.” Indeed, it does.
There are people all over the world who start programs and efforts to do all manner of things to help others. Some efforts don’t cost anything, they just need time and know-how. I read about one young man in a western US town who started collecting discarded food and taking it to a homeless camp so others could eat.
Even some states are starting programs that will make huge differences in people's lives.
Connecticut has created the first baby bond, establishing and depositing $3,200 into accounts for newborns who are in their Medicaid program. With time and compounding interest those children might each have as much as $24,000 by the time they are young adults. These children will have some choices. And, so do some high school students in
states where book-bannings are taking place. They are forming Banned Books book clubs. One club in Miami picked “Their Eyes Were Watching God," by Zora Neale Hurston, for their first book.
There are countless other good things-- some large programs, many small, happening all over the world. A friend wrote on a card she sent me, “May we walk the paths given us as best as we are able- in loving kindness, in peace, in justice- seeking, in joy and gratitude- with a goodly drop of humor.”
As for me, this very day, I got to see Rusty, the tough little hummingbird who was the subject of my last blog. Soon he will leave for his summer grounds. The good people harboring him took care to create a safe environment and to feed their compost with scraps that encourage tiny insects for Rusty's protein meals. We all have the power to make a positive difference. That is a happy thought.
Time magazine, January 22, 2024. “Choose your stories well” by Tom Rivett-Carnac and Oliver Jeffers.
First photo is by me, the other two are from copyright free photo files.
© Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, February 7, 2024