When a Texas man stopped at a drive-through restaurant to grab a quick dinner after a busy day he pulled out his credit card and waited while the clerk swiped and swiped, and tried again. It was denied. Apparently he had done so much shopping that day, the credit card company had put a stop on the card.
A young cook working in the back of the restaurant heard the conversation, jumped in, pulled out his own credit card, and paid for the man’s dinner. Of course the business man thanked him profusely. Then was on his way. That could have been the end of the story. But….
A couple of months later, the man gathered a number a people including the cook’s parents at the restaurant to honor the generosity of this young man. He thanked him again and gave him a $50 gift certificate, saying I just wanted to say “don’t stop being a good guy.”
People are good. I know we hear about shootings and looting and gang issues and hate-filled political rhetoric, but mostly, overwhelmingly? People are good. Remember that you are one of those good people. We're not supposed to hold that inside so no one knows we are good and wish good things for others. We are supposed to act on the needs we see.
A little encouragement goes a long way. A smile can relieve someone’s fears. Just holding the door for a person might be proof to them that at least at that moment they matter to someone.
We say “use your words!” to children who are crying for something and we can’t understand them. We expect them to help us out a little—let us know what the problem is. But when it comes to adults, we might have to ask in a better way. “What can I do to help?” “Can I give you a ride?” “Have you eaten today?” “Do you have a place to sleep?” “Do you need something?”
Think hard about all those who have helped you with encouragement, money, love, time, food, or support of some kind. Now look around and see how you can keep the chain going. People fall off the tracks sometimes. Some are born off the tracks. Hopefully, the rest of us won’t just walk by and let them get run over. It is a way to remember to thank those who have helped us along the way. Because every day is payback time.
As I watch my grandchildren peering constantly into their iPods, I wonder what this epidemic of mind-numbing electronics will translate into as they grow into men and women.
Even though they hear about the needs of the world, do those facts mean anything in competition with electronic games like "Angry Birds" and "Hair Salon"?
Do they know that poverty forces one in seven children to go to work every day? That's 158 million kids with jobs that often also deal with a lifetime of illiteracy.
Even in America, 47 million citizens receive food stamps. In contrast, my grandchildren are pretty bummed when we run out of Skinny Pop.
In their defense, they are only 11 and eight and pretty generous too, but still, like most U.S. kids, they have been raised in an atmosphere of benefit and love. They have no first-hand experience of need and neglect, no knowledge of grinding hunger. The truth is most of us don't.
We have information, but not experience. Those are two very different things. How many people do you know who have ever missed a meal because there was no food, no money to buy food, and no prospect of food? What's the count? One? Zero?
Maybe this week we could play our own version of Angry Birds. Maybe we could attack institutional hunger by taking a little cash out of the grocery money and sending it to one of the great charities that feed people. (You can click on the Resources page above to find them!) These folks are the feet on the ground who do the work of caring for those in need, and when they count how many truly starving people they know, its in the hundreds and thousands.
Angry Birds unite against hunger. Now there's a game we could feel good about.