Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Let's try a little harder...

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I've been told I'm a nice person.  Ok, thanks for that.  I'll take it.  Some folks will go so far as to say I "have a heart of gold"...*cough, sputter, choke* (sorry, my coffee just came up through my nose)...um, nooo - not really.  I'll let you, my dear friends and blog readers, think what you'd like.  I'm not going to debate you point by point.  My personal opinion is that I'm quite ornery; I do what I can to help but I contribute a lot of background grumbling while I'm doing it.  This is something I need to work on.  It's definitely a long term goal.

People annoy me.  This is rather a blunt statement but unfortunately it's true.  There's a huge sense of "entitlement" which seems prevalent anymore.  "I've worked hard for 65 years, I'm "entitled" to retire in my recliner and to Hell with the people who don't have health insurance or need public assistance."  Yes, you've worked hard.  But what if these folks desperately need a doctor or have nothing to eat?  What if they were your children or grandchildren?  Not everyone is dishonest.  People need help, so what do we do?  Leave them in the streets?  Run up our health care costs by utilizing hospital emergency rooms?  Let them starve to death in the back alleys?  Ultimately, what is the right thing to do?

When did opening doors, giving up seats for the elderly, or assisting someone stranded on the side of the road become such a major inconvenience?  When did smiling at a grocery clerk or offering a kind word of encouragement to a stranger end up such a quirky thing to do?  My husband and I tell our boys everyday that they are neither above or below anyone else on this earth.  By the luck of the draw, we've been placed where we are; we could have just as easily been born into poverty as wealth.  The size of a person's billfold does not determine the depth of character; instead, a person's greatness is measured by the number of lives he or she impacts in a positive way.

When I see an obvious omission of polite behavior, I become incensed.  Where has human decency gone?  I don't have a heart of gold; however, what I do have is a normal, every day expectation that people should treat others with courtesy and respect.

Those who have hearts of gold are those who have an amazing conviction in people as a whole; who despite what they see on a daily basis, still believe that the human race is inherently good.  These incredible individuals, in my estimation, are saints because they're willing to look past our flaws and continue to pray for humanity in all our ugliness.  They trust that we'll pull through somehow and come together for the betterment of mankind.  Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are just a few examples of people whom I aspire to be like.  

There are still others whose names will never be famous; folks more inspiring because they make an amazing impact on the lives around them without fanfare or glory.  They hide in the shadows and volunteer their love and assistance because they know in their "golden hearts" that this is simply the right thing to do.  They give without asking anything in return, never complain, and oftentimes leave this earth without so much as an acknowledgement.  God bless them.

So, as I sit here typing, thank you for saying that I'm a good person; however, I do not have a heart of gold.  There are many in this world who deserve the title more so than myself.

Friends, let's always remember to do the following:
  • When we see servicemen, servicewomen, or veterans, let's walk up and say, "Thank you."
  • When an elderly person or a pregnant woman needs a place to sit, regardless of the inconvenience, let's give them our seat.
  • Always hold the door for the person behind us, whether it's for a man or a woman.  It's the polite thing to do.
  • If someone needs help carrying packages, their child is having a temper tantrum, or they look like they're having an awful day - don't judge, simply offer them assistance or a kind word.
  • Finally, teach our children to do these things and above all, to be courteous towards people who appear different.  Our children must learn tolerance and empathy.  We're all in this together. 

Thank you.