Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Incredible Human Spirit

Earlier today, I was watching a program on the History Channel regarding the 1989 Californian earthquake that caused such devastation. My dad was there at the time and it wasn’t until a day-and-a-half later that we were able to find out if he was okay or not. This was the time before cell phones were so popular and all the landlines were down. The hotel where dad was staying didn’t have any power, so he slept in the car all night. The next day, he was fortunate to get a flight out and called us from the hotel when he got there. Talk about relief!

What amazed me about this, though, was the number of people, just like you and me, who stepped forward to help. Many even risked their lives trying to help complete strangers. Whenever I see something like this, it brings tears to my eyes, and gives me such a wonderful feeling about our country, our world, and the human spirit.

We saw it happen during and after 9/11. People drove or flew from all over the world to Ground Zero to lend a hand, many risking their lives, and many ending up with serious physical illnesses after working in all the toxins. We saw it during and after Katrina. Again, people came from all over the world to help. Many across the country opened their homes to complete strangers and their pets to give them a place to stay until they could make other arrangements. I’m almost in tears now just thinking about it. We see people helping during and after the floods, tornados, fires….

Do we see this incredible human spirit when there aren’t any tragedies? Not as much. Yes, there are still thousands and thousands of people who go out of their way to help people, to save their lives, and ask nothing in return. But for some reason, people are complacent with their lives and live in their own little worlds the rest of the time. Now I do want to give credit to all the police, firemen (and women), EMT’s, and all the other rescue services that help people, even at the risk of their lives. They are under-appreciated and under-paid. (The next time you see someone in this type of service, give them a friendly “thank you for all you do!”)

We are now at a cross roads in our political arena and it’s time for people to once again step forward and show that incredible spirit. Regardless of whom you are voting for, it is time for Americans to step out of their comfort zones to help our fellow human beings (as well as our animal brothers and sisters). Now is the time to join the collective consciousness toward world peace, of ending famine both in the U.S. and abroad, to aid the homeless who want to get back on their feet and become a contributing citizen to our society, to help those who are ill and not able to take care of themselves, and to answer the call of being our brother’s keepers.

Now, here is the tricky part. Some people say that they don’t want government in their business, and yet they want the government to take care of the things they don’t want to worry about, such as feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, taking care of the homeless, the jobless, etc. For those who say they don’t want government in their business, I ask you, when was the last time you took in a homeless person and helped them get back on their feet? When was the last time you fed someone who was hungry (strangers)? When was the last time you helped someone who lost their job, helped pay their bills, and helped them to find employment? When was the last time you paid for someone’s medical bills because they were unable to do so on their own? This also goes for the people who complain about those who help overseas, but not in America. If that is important to you, help someone here who needs it. Oh. The government should do that? See? I said it was tricky, didn’t I?

We are now at a great spiritual awakening. People all over the world are finding that normal life isn’t enough and they feel like they should be contributing something to the greater good. People are quitting their normal, every day jobs, and going into jobs of service in order to help their fellow man, whether it is in America or elsewhere. People are learning just how connected we all really are regardless of our color, race, religion, walk of life, or where we live.

The hungry child in Africa is just as important as the hungry child in America, Mexico, China, Jamaica or anywhere else in the world. There is absolutely no reason why anyone in any country should go to bed hungry with the amount of food that is grown on this earth. Think about the food we waste just here in the United States. So many people in some countries are literally starving to death, and yet in the U.S. we have people paying others to keep them from eating!

There is no reason why anyone should go without medical care because they cannot afford it or cannot afford to pay for insurance. What happened to caring for the sick just because they needed it? Yes, people do need to make a living, even those in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, but if these industries really cared about people rather than a profit, there should be a way to do both.

There is a lot of hate in this world. There is a lot of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance in this world. But there is also a lot of love, compassion, understanding, and kindness in this world. The difference is that you just don’t hear about the latter. Our news is so hate-minded that all you hear about is the crime, the death, and the destruction. But if you could just hear about the people who go out of their way to help each other, everywhere from a simple act of kindness, to acts of great courage when risking their life to save a stranger, don’t you think it would change the way we think and live?

A friend at Unity and I were discussing the news at one time, and he came up with a great idea. He said he would like to start a network called GNN, Good News Network. The only news would be good news. News about people helping people. People helping animals. People helping the earth. People really living love, peace, and compassion. All over the world. It may not get the viewers at first, but I would be willing to bet that it would catch on and would gain a following.

A great man once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy during his inaugural speech January 20, 1961). I am printing his entire speech in the posting below this one. I had looked it up just to get the correct quote above, but I ended up reading the whole speech and it brought tears to my eyes. This speech is just as much needed today, as it was when Kennedy gave it in 1961. I would highly suggest reading it in its entirety.

We are at a great crossroads in our history, in our lives, and it we have the choice as to where we want to take our country and our world. As the song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Or as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And Mother Theresa was once asked if she would come to an anti-war rally, and she replied something along the line of, "No, but if you have a rally for peace, I will be there."

You may not have the time or be able to help on a grand scale, but you can help right where you are. Spread random acts of kindness. Speak kindly to people, even if they are strangers. Say a friendly hello to everyone you can. Whatever you can do to come to the aid of your fellow men and women (and animal)…that is how you change your world. It begins with each of us.

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