By Joe Rector
Everybody likes a feel-good story. I’m a sucker for one. The slightest good-news item can bring a tear to my eyes. YouTube has sucked me in, and I spend too much time going down rabbit holes for UFC clips, Karen stories, and drum and bugle corps competitions. However, nothing can hold my attention more than stories about folks doing kind things for others.
I’ve realized that the American people are actually pretty good. In the realm of donations, Americans gave almost $288 billion in 2017. For the most part, we are soft-hearted when it comes to giving. Of course, commercials for organizations such as ASPCA and St. Jude’s immediately have us reaching for our wallets. Children and pets are important to most of us, and we can’t stand the thought of either of them hurting.
I clean our building at least a couple of times each year. Items have been stuffed into the small space, and when no walking room is available, the time has come to empty the contents. Like most folks, we have much more than we need, so those items in storage are delivered to organizations that give them to those in need. Some use the receipts from their contributions to help with taxes. These days, we just drop off a load and say thank you. What people don’t realize is that our giveaway items are precious items to less fortunate families.
Individuals always do a good job of reminding me that Americans aren’t so bad. I always enjoy watching videos of men who stop at an overgrown yard and mow it for free. It’s a way that they can give back. An individual stops for a minute to speak to a homeless person or hands him a bag of food is something else that makes me smile.
It seems to me that the only things that brings out the bad sides of folks are politics and race. Many people won’t speak to another person who is from a different political party. Nice guys become viscous monsters when someone dares to speak ill of a politician or a candidate for office. Battle lines are drawn and attacks on one’s foes are swift and bloody. Lifelong friendships dissolve in seconds over political debates. Neither person is willing to listen to the ideas of the other.
The same thing happens when racial matters arrive. Our prejudices take center stage in our lives, and words and deeds turn ugly. Most of the problems with racial matters are a lack of understanding. We simply don’t understand how the other race lives. We have no concept of their culture, and I believe that they have no concept of ours. We fear what we don’t understand. To others, our actions look like calculated ones to gain the upper hand.
No matter what political affiliations we have or what race we are, the people of America are basically good. That’s been hard to believe over the last few years. I wish that we would decide to look at the good in each other instead of focusing on the differences. The truth is that 100 years from now, no one will know or care about those things. However, if Americans accept each other as equal creations by a loving God, our impact on the future can be acknowledged for generations to come. Let’s give it a chance and see.