I had bookmarked the following post for next Wednesday’s ‘good people’ post, but last night it was on my mind, and I thought it would make a beautiful Saturday Surprise entry. This is a wonderfully uplifting story, one of those that gives us a renewed sense of hope for humanity. I think it’s a great way to start the weekend, and I think you’ll agree …
What would you do?…. You make the choice.
What would you do?….you make the choice. Don’t look for a punch line, there isn’t one… Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: ‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.
Where is the natural order of things in my son?’ The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’ Then he told the following story:
Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’
I was struggling last night for a topic for my Wednesday good people post, and just as I had about decided that I would have to skip it this week, I noticed an email from Axios, the subject line read “Kindness Continued.” Turns out that Axios has been doing a series that I somehow missed about the power of small acts of kindness. All of these acts are very small things, often costing the giver nothing at all, but they mean so much to the recipient. It just goes to show you don’t have to build houses for the homeless or donate thousands of dollars to feed the poor in order to be a ‘good people’. Little things mean a lot! Here are a few …
“The first time I was traveling alone with my daughter — who was 11 months old at the time — a stranger on a plane offered to hold her after we landed so I was able to gather our things and have a moment to breathe. It meant the most to a young mom with her hands full.” —Abby D., Des Moines, Iowa
“A fellow lawyer, a total stranger, put money in a parking meter for me when he realized that I would get stuck in court beyond the time I had left.” —Avraham M., West Hempstead, New York
“Just the other day I was trying to navigate a stroller through a coffee shop … not a glamorous task. When I went to leave, a man came darting from across the entire coffee shop to open the door for me. … It truly set the tone for my entire day.” —Lily M., Atlanta, Georgia
“My wife and I, both in our 70s, were loading heavy bags of rock for a landscaping project into our car. A woman approached and loaded the rest. As she finished and turned away, I shouted, ‘You have restored my faith in humanity.’ She responded, ‘We all need that.'” —Roger R., Ballwin, Missouri
“I left my backpack, complete with my work laptop and files, on the busy NYC subway one evening. I was certain it was lost forever. I made a claim, panicked, and worried and worried again. … Then came an email and a text: ‘I have your red backpack.’ This amazing and kind medical student brought my backpack to me.” —Jane C., NYC
“Several years ago I was struggling to lace up my very large and cumbersome — but totally awesome — dress in the Maryland Renaissance Faire parking lot. The girl getting dressed at the car next to mine offered to help me do up my laces.” —Caroline M., Walnut Creek, California
“My first day working in a new city, I exited my office building and couldn’t remember how to find the train station. A stranger walked by, noticed I looked lost, and doubled back to see if I needed directions. I fell in love with Chicago that day.” —Spencer W., Chicago, Illinois
It just goes to show that all of us have the ability to be a good people, and sometimes it seems to me that those who have the least in life, are the ones who give the most!
I didn’t reblog this when I first read it this morning, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible, for David’s might just be the single best New Year’s message I’ve seen yet! Thank you, David … Cwtch
blwyddyn Newydd Dda to all my readers or to those who get here by accident. We have all undergone difficulties over the last few years of one form or another, so I hope this year starts with you in a mood of renewed hope and happiness. Do your best too make the World a better place, not just for yourself but for everyone no matter where they live. Maybe this is the year we can start to solve some of the problems of those less fortunate than us. Not just the droughts in Africa and the problems of babies born with cleft palates or degenerative eye disease that can be easily cured. But, maybe the bright sparks among you can find a way of ending the current wars of attrition still taking place around the globe. If we put our minds to it I'm sure solutions can be found. If…
Some holiday songs just bear repeating year after year, and this is at the top of my list for an annual redux. Both David and Clive have already played this one this year, but it remains a tradition here at Filosofa’s Word, and so I offer it up again. The story behind the song is one that is timeless, a reminder of humanity, and one that never fails to stir the depth of my emotions.
On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire, but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.
Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops fighting in World War I sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.
At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. Some Germans lit Christmas trees around their trenches, and there was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer. German Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch recalled …
“How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.”
The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.
Christmas Eve in 1914
Stars were burning, burning bright
And all along the Western Front
Guns were lying still and quiet.
Men lay dozing in the trenches,
In the cold and in the dark,
And far away behind the lines
A village dog began to bark.
Some lay thinking of their families,
Some sang songs while others were quiet
Rolling fags and playing brag
To while away that Christmas night.
But as they watched the German trenches
Something moved in No Man’s Land
And through the dark came a soldier
Carrying a white flag in his hand.
Then from both sides men came running,
Crossing into No Man’s Land,
Through the barbed-wire, mud and shell holes,
Shyly stood there shaking hands.
Fritz brought out cigars and brandy,
Tommy brought corned beef and fags,
Stood there talking, singing, laughing,
As the moon shone on No Man’s Land.
Christmas Day we all played football
In the mud of No Man’s Land;
Tommy brought some Christmas pudding,
Fritz brought out a German band.
When they beat us at football
We shared out all the grub and drink
And Fritz showed me a faded photo
Of a dark-haired girl back in Berlin.
For four days after no one fired,
Not one shot disturbed the night,
For old Fritz and Tommy Atkins
Both had lost the will to fight.
So they withdrew us from the trenches,
Sent us far behind the lines,
Sent fresh troops to take our places
And told the guns “Prepare to fire”.
And next night in 1914
Flares were burning, burning bright;
The message came along the trenches
Over the top we’re going tonight.
And the men stood waiting in the trenches,
Looking out across our football park,
And all along the Western Front
The Christmas guns began to bark.
These are some of the thoughts that have run barefoot through my mind today …
Bigotry in all its forms is a result of ignorance. We fear that which we do not or cannot understand. Unfortunately, some people are weak and can be easily convinced to fear almost anything. Politicians play on that weakness, hence you have people who are scared of immigrants, scared of LGBTQ+ people, scared of anyone basically who does not act, look, and think as they do. If you are uncomfortable about immigrants, talk to some of them, learn about their culture, try their foods – you won’t regret it. Our neighbors moved here several years ago from Iraq and spoke only about 10 words of English. We communicated through some signing, some Google Translate, laughter and compassion, the language that knows no boundaries. Today, they are our best friends – we have learned a bit of Arabic, they have learned a LOT of English and all 5 family members passed their citizenship tests in 2020. We share meals, laughter and love – I wouldn’t trade that experience for all the money in the world! If you are frightened by LGBTQ+ people, get to know a few, try to understand that who they choose to love really isn’t your business. About half of my friends are LGBTQ+ and they have enriched my life, my understanding, in too many ways to count. But you have to open your minds and your hearts to understand people of other cultures, views and beliefs … if you don’t, you are the one missing out!
Life is what you make of it. A reader commented yesterday that life on earth is hell. Well, admittedly things around the globe are in a dark place right now, but … I don’t think that makes it a hell on earth. That just means we all need to do our part to change things. If you don’t like the stack of dirty laundry piled up in the hallway, you can get off your arse and wash/dry/fold it, or you can spend an equal amount of time sitting around whining about it. Your choice. Don’t like the way the country is being run? Then vote the bastards out and vote in people who are possessed of a conscience, who care about people over profit. Don’t like the price of fuel? Drive less. Wait it out … it will stabilize. If you want to lay blame, put the blame where it belongs – on the oil companies who are raking in record profits. The best thing we the consumers can do, seriously, is to drive less, therefore buying less fuel. Law of supply and demand … when the supply exceeds demand, when oil companies are selling less fuel, miraculously the price will drop. Turn the thermostat down, turn some lights off, and stay home more!
Politicians are like prostitutes … they sell themselves to the highest bidder. They’ll still take your paltry $20 contribution, but you won’t get a damn thing in exchange, for you cannot compete with the millions of dollars they receive from the rich dudes. So, don’t waste your money … give instead to organizations that help feed hungry children or house the homeless. Give to environmental groups that are working toward saving the future of the planet for our children and grandchildren.
Some of the unlikeliest candidates on the ballot this year are puppets. Take, for instance, Herschel Walker. Mr. Walker knows very little outside the sports arena, as he’s shown us nearly every time he’s opened his mouth. He lies, he has no policies, no values, but is saying he stands for whatever his handlers, the puppetmasters, are telling him to say he stands for. What would he do if he won a seat in the U.S. Senate? He would vote in whatever way his handlers told him to. A vote for Herschel Walker is actually a vote for Mitch McConnell who would ‘advise’ Mr. Walker how to act/dress/vote in every circumstance. The same can likely be said for a host of others on the ballot with an ‘R’ next to their name. Whatever happened to the day when candidates had some relevant education and experience?
And finally … let’s remember we’re all on this planet together. We share the same resources, and what happens to one happens to us all. “America First” is nothing but exclusionary trash talk. We need all people in all countries to work together to solve the biggest problems facing us all: the environment and world-wide poverty. There is no “them vs us” — we’re all people. People with flaws, but most of whom care about others enough to change the world, if only we stop allowing ourselves to be ‘led’ by religious leaders and politicians who have their own agendas. Choose peace over hatred & violence. Your grandchildren will one day thank you for it.
It is with shame and regret that I had not heard of the 100 lives lost in Somalia. Are we becoming inured to such things? Are we, in fact, losing our humanity to technology? Or are humans simply becoming more self-focused, self-centered, and uncaring? Our friend Roger shares some of his thoughts that I think everyone should read. Thank you, Roger!
No, I did not notice at the time. I only read this by chance when checking the BBC newsfeed for an update on the latest antics of members of our government.
Point of note, excluding everything up ‘newsfeed’ that took up 16 words; the news item took 14 words. Despite the horror of that death and carnage, sitting here is my relatively stable and comfortable piece of the Western World I still end up devoting more words to UK ‘local’ comparatively transitory topics than the violent deaths of one hundred folk in a place, far away. And I might have heard the news about 500 deaths in the same place a few years back, but there’s no memory. There should have been, but we in our own locations flooded by input trivia and matters which…
Until quite recently, I believed that all humans were some combination of good and bad. None of us are perfect … I sometimes have thoughts that I’m not proud of and in my 71 years on this earth, I’ve done things I now regret. Some people have more good than bad, and vice versa, but I always believed that at the core, people were good. I sit before you today to tell you that I no longer believe that. I have finally been convinced that some people are just evil beings. This realization is not a pleasant one, not one that encourages me to want to remain a part of the human species.
When there is at least a shred of decency in a person, that part of them can be coaxed, nourished, and encouraged until that person finds their conscience and realizes the error of their ways. At least, that’s what I thought. But, where there is not so much as a shred of kindness, of compassion within a person’s psyche, there is no foundation upon which to build. Where the conscience should reside, there is only a dark hole.
Last Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband was brutally beaten by a thug seeking to kidnap Ms. Pelosi. Paul Pelosi sustained a skull fracture and serious damage to his arm and hands. Most of us felt a great deal of empathy and asked ourselves … WHY??? How have we come to this point? But, shortly after news of the attack, some people thought it was appropriate to mock, to denigrate, and to make up cruel, nasty stories about Mr. Pelosi and the attack. ANYBODY, in my book, who cannot even have a bit of compassion for the victim of such an attack, has zero conscience, not a grain of humanity. Yes, that means you, Kari Lake, and you, Governor Youngkin, and all those fools on Twitter who are posting memes and such that mock the seriousness of this situation. Those people are irredeemable, for they have no core upon which to build.
Last night, we learned that a former co-worker of my daughter had been arrested for beating her 4-month-old baby daughter to death. My daughter was devastated, remembering the years she and this woman had worked side-by-side as nurses, people whose entire focus in life was to preserve life. A 4-month-old baby! What the hell can a 4-month-old baby do to make its own mother so angry that she would beat it to death??? Cry? Spit up on the sofa? This woman is another example of someone without a conscience, someone who cannot ever be mistaken for a human again!
Until the past week, I retained some hope for humanity to win out over cruelty. My ‘good people’ posts on Wednesdays have always been an attempt to balance out the darkness of the daily news stories by shining a light on those people making a positive difference in people’s lives. Tonight, I must honestly say that I don’t know if I can do a ‘good people’ post this week … or ever again. Make no mistake … yes, I believe there ARE many good people out there, quietly going about the business of trying to make this world a better place for us all, but … they are overshadowed by those who would mock, denigrate, and do violence against others.
The world has many problems, and there are many good, intelligent people trying to resolve those problems such as climate change, poverty and hunger, racism, guns, violence, wealth inequality and more, but there seem to be equally as many foolish, uncaring, conscience-less people trying to keep them from repairing the damage caused by humans for the past few centuries. Can good overcome evil? Until the last few days, I thought it could and likely would. Today, I am not so sure, and that is depressing.
Democracy, it is said, is the ideal form of government to which all nations should aspire. But, is it really so perfect? Or is it perfect only on paper, before humans get their hands on it? Listen to what our friend Roger has to say on the subject …
If there is one way to upset some folk who worry about Democracy it is to suggest they are living in one. I did this once on a UK Face Book and received stern lectures, warnings and downright abuse from opponents of the British Government, some of whom seemed to have taken the V for Vendetta film as a documentary and are living the freedom fighter fantasy.
The Nature(s) of Democracy
Democracy takes on similarities to some of the categories encountered in Quantum Physics and Mechanics; they are either a wave or a particle, or they exist until you look at them. Taking the analogy one step further the study of both often end up with something along the lines of ‘Even if we can’t see it. There has to be This otherwise That wouldn’t happen’
I don’t know why, but a few things of late have made me do some thinking. It started with Hurricane Ian and our friend Scottie’s post about the damage he and Ron had suffered. Roger and I were chatting in comments about how insignificant our own problems suddenly seemed as compared to what the survivors of the hurricane were going through.
Earlier that day, I had been nattering because as I was trying to get something that was at the back of the refrigerator, my arm accidentally knocked a small tub of sauce off the fridge shelf and onto the floor, where the lid separated from the container and left a nice little puddle of sweet ‘n sour sauce for me to clean up. I cursed a bit and pondered aloud why things couldn’t just go right. And then … I caught my self … I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “Oh shit … I should be thankful that I have so much in my fridge that this could happen. I should be grateful that I have a fridge and electricity to power it! What the hell am I whining about???”
We humans, it seems, are an insulated lot. Sure, we (at least most of us) feel empathy for those who are in trying circumstances, but at the end of the day, we’re more concerned with our own convenience. Last night, I popped into Facebook and saw a post by a friend bemoaning that her new living room furniture was supposed to have been delivered but there was a delay. She was “not happy”, so her hubby took her out to her favourite restaurant as a consolation. Most people commented with commiseration over her delayed furniture, or about how wonderful her hubby is (he really is a great guy), but my thoughts were … shouldn’t you just be thankful that you can afford new furniture when some people don’t even have furniture, old or new? And then, I realized that I, too, would have been grouchy and whiny had I been in her shoes. And it made me ashamed of myself.
Are we really so insular that we cannot see how petty most of our own problems are? Does it matter that the cat knocked over the flowerpot, or grease spilled onto the stove burner, when compared to women in Iran being slaughtered for protesting an archaic, misogynistic dress code, or people in Ukraine being left homeless after Russian bombs destroyed their houses, or worse yet, mourning their child who was killed when a bomb hit?
Perspective. I frequently diss on the wealthy, for they cannot see, will not see, how the rest of us live. They live a life of luxury in their ivory towers while we commoners struggle to pay our bills and put food on the table. But, in some sense, don’t we all do the same? I live in a small rented townhouse that to me is a pain, because we have lived here for 24 years and have accumulated so much ‘stuff’ that we’ve basically outgrown it, but … how many people are sharing a makeshift shelter with a dozen other people tonight, hoping it doesn’t rain and wash their shelter downriver? How many people are living in tents made of cardboard boxes under highway overpasses tonight? I had chicken with veggies and rice for supper tonight … how many people had naught more than a scant bowl of rice or a piece of bread?
‘Wealth’ is relative … and relative to so many others, you and I are wealthy. Yes, there are those who have far more than we do, but … there are more who have far less than we. I’m not trying to sound ‘preachy’ at all … this is simply my own reflection of how much I have, how lucky I am, and how often I take it all for granted. I think I need to learn a bit of humility, need to remember more often to reflect on what I have, need to put my everyday frustrations into perspective. My needs are met, my ‘wants’ are mostly met … life will always be filled with minor frustrations, but that is exactly what they are … minor frustrations.
I tend to play this song when … well, when I need to … imagine. When I need to imagine that there is hope for this world, when I need to believe that humans will eventually find their better side, will begin to care someday, care about others, care about the land, about all living creatures. Today is the 21st anniversary of the horror that would become known as 9/11. 2,996 people died on that day, more than 400 of them police and firefighters. Since then, hundreds more rescue workers have lost their lives as a result of the toxicity at Ground Zero. But, we lost more than human lives that day. We lost … I think that was the day we all came to realize, though even today we would deny it, that “Peace on earth” is a myth that will never be realized. We came to realize, I think, that … nothing would ever be quite the same again, and that no, it won’t all be okay. But we want to still believe in hope … I think we must still believe, else … what is the point in it all? And so, my friends, I give you John Lennon and his view of … a better world … again.
Imagine John Lennon
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one