I’ve got a proposal for you. You write in and share the kinds of acts that reflect positive role models and I’ll share them with our readers.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got bad news fatigue, reading headlines online and in newspapers about people doing all kinds of terrible things to strangers, neighbors and family members.
Every time an athlete, actor or politician does something embarrassing, awful or illegal, it becomes the talk of the town, triggering endless discussions about negative role models, driven by the pampered lives of those accustomed to living without boundaries.
We have become a culture of rubberneckers, watching the “gotcha” moments when reporters demand accountability from horrible landlords. We also watch shows like “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” where people routinely hurt themselves doing ill-advised activities, like jumping over something sharp on a skateboard.
Yes, of course, some of those “gotcha” moments can benefit us, helping us as we stay vigilant against the same kind of scams or illegal activities we don’t want to trick us. But what about recognizing and emulating those people who affect positive change and tap into a seemingly endless wellspring of energy to improve the community?
How about the person answering the phone who has a kind, supportive word for anyone who calls; the receptionist who remembers every patient who comes into a doctor’s office; or the crossing guard who holds a stop sign in the middle of the busy morning commute, demanding safety for every child and encouraging anxious kids on their way to classes.
As we approach the longest day of the year, I’d like to offer you a chance to celebrate the sunshine in our communities. It’s harder for newspapers to see the sort of random acts of kindness that people share every day. After all, the police have press conferences and updates whenever there’s a crime spree or when someone does something the public needs to know about so we can protect ourselves.
A friend of ours recently started battling serious health issues. His wife has been by his side, while his children continue to go about their daily routines, to the extent possible. They go to school, take tests and walk the dog. Once their friends learned about these challenges, they rallied around the family, signing up through an organization called Lotsa Helping Hands to help provide meals and share in the dog responsibilities. These are the sort of things people routinely do to make life better for each other.
We have role models throughout our community. My son’s teacher, for example, recently noticed that he earned a lower grade on a quiz than she was accustomed to seeing from him. He didn’t fail and it didn’t cause his grade to drop dramatically. Still, she didn’t write off the result as a bad day or chalk it up to adolescent distraction. Instead, she asked to speak with him for a moment after class, where she went over each of the areas where he lost points. I’m sure that happens regularly with teachers throughout the community, who encourage and support their students in a way that might one day ignite a successful career.
To offer a corollary to the Homeland Security slogan, I’d like to suggest that “If you see something great, say something.” People routinely go out of their way to make a world filled with challenges a better place. It’s often the small things that stay with us through the day, like the magic that comes from transforming a child’s anxious frown into a self-assured grin.