Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2016
She was born with cerebral palsy. She is now in fifth grade and an outstanding student. Her mind believes she has no boundaries except the physical ones imposed on her by fate.
Her classmates had a swim meet and she competed. She struggled in the water to get to the other side.
The young audience watching her started shouting her name to encourage her, “Katherine, Katherine, Katherine!” She did not win the race, but she became an inspiration to all. She was inspired by the goodness of her friends as well.
There was a man on a subway who saw a homeless black man shivering with no shirt on. The homeless man was disoriented and alone. The white male traveler, feeling compassion, walked toward the shivering man, took his shirt off and gave it to him. The young man looked deep into the eyes of his new friend who had chosen not to ignore him, but instead, give him warmth.
A flight to Denver carrying 200 passengers landed safely on a tarmac. The passengers were from all over the world; some could not speak English. They were simply a band of strangers traveling together.
However, when they witnessed the flag-draped coffin of a fallen U.S. Marine leave the cargo hold, going home to his final resting place, they all cried. The band of strangers became one to honor and respect a life lost while protecting each one of them.
We are in the middle of a nasty political debate. We watch evil perpetrated and spread through a group called ISIS. We have studied the history of evil dictators and tyrants and the path of destruction left in their wake. We encounter bullies throughout our lives. We all do bad things and are sinful many times over.
Hate, at times, seems to dominate our culture and permeate our brains. And, often, we think it is winning.
I don’t think so. I see goodness every day because I have chosen to look at it. I see brave and wonderful people who reach out to others and help.
We are raised to believe that goodness is stronger than evil. Just go to a movie and the good guy is usually not the loser. Goodness is still all around us. We all desperately need to not only believe in it, but practice it. That is how we can leave our children with an improved world.
“If you can’t say something nice, then say nothing!” My mother and grandmother would declare. They truly believed and lived by that mantra. How many times have you heard that same statement from a relative of yours?
The ability to hide behind a text or behind the internet to say hurtful things and spread untruths is no excuse. Maybe if my mother was here today she would say, “If you can’t say it out loud to a person’s face, then don’t type it!”
We make the world a better place by being better people. We heal the nation by healing our hearts. It begins with each one of us. We need to practice empathy and be diligent with our goodness. We need to display more human kindness. We should stop spreading hatred, rumors, and innuendo of any kind to anyone.
We can no longer blame someone else for our ills. We can no longer be apathetic and hope another will take charge. If you take charge of your actions, then you start a positive change.
You know, we can learn a lot through Katherine, the subway rider, and the 200 passengers on the plane carrying that fallen soldier home.
The person who is different from ourselves may be the one who leads and makes us all better. Anyone can win a race, but not many can touch the soul of a crowd. Katherine won the hearts of her peers by doing and being the best she could be. I am sure no one will remember who won the swim meet years from now, but no one will ever forget Katherine. Katherine, in turn, will never forget the support of her friends.
The man on the subway felt a need within him to cover a shivering man with his own clothes. He did not care what color the man was. He only saw a human being in need. By that simple act, fellow subway riders and a nation witnessed pure decency.
The flight that held 200 passengers became one because all of us, no matter what language we speak, what color we are, what religion we belong to, understand loss and pain.
Yes, there are evil people that walk among us. That doesn’t mean we should become more evil ourselves. We don’t have to spread cynicism, hatred, and divisiveness, do we?
God says simply, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I think He is right about that.