What Restores Your Faith In Us?

17 Dec

The World Will End on December 21, 2012.

Or so the gossip reads now.  Who knows if it will actually come to pass; it may or it may not.  But with all this talk about end of the world catastrophes and chaos, it has me thinking about daily heroes.

The movies always suggest that the end of the world catastrophes (see “2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) will result in great heroic deeds of love and that the innate human “fighting spirit” will rise up.  I would like to think that people will rally around one another, that families will be strong, that we will continue to hold onto that which makes us human–our concept of civilization and what it means to be civilized.  But is this really what would happen?

There has been a lot in the news recently.  With all the violence, crime, and unkindness we find in the world today, many discussions have been raised as to whether there is still good in the world.  I found it interesting to note that many people online responded to the tragedy of the recent school shooting with a forwarded post called “Moments That Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year.”  The goal was to remind us all that there is still good in this world, and that, when the going gets tough, our better natures prevail.  A few days ago, my family and I were discussing this issue and someone asked an important question that I now pose to you:

If you knew that something catastrophic was going to happen, and that the world as you knew it was going to change forever, do you have one memory from your own life that you hold onto as evidence that there is still enough good in this world and that it will triumph in the end?

Now, this does not include things you read about in the papers or that you watched on television.  Not that there are not hundreds of awesome examples as the link above shows.  But the goal is to see whether every person can find one experience from their own life that makes them believe we are still good.

Here’s mine. . .

For me, that moment came about ten years ago, in a small mid-western town in the middle of Missouri.  The town was not the best of all places.  Centered between St. Louis and Kansas City, and located along the road leading up to Chicago, this town was the central place for all illegal activity.  Drugs were constantly being smuggled in and out along the trade roads leading from those great cities.  The junior and high schools were both assigned several police officers, who remained there during school hours as an attempt to limit school violence that was ever escalating.  Teen suicide and pregnancy was high.  Gang shootouts happened about once a year.  For a small town, it had an astronomical number of murders.  The point is, this was not the best place in the world to live.

But somewhere in that town lived the Christmas spirit.  Ten years ago, I was living in that town.  Now, as the daughter of a single mother and a father who all-to-often failed to follow through on paying child-support, I have always had a special place in my heart for fatherless families.  Things become especially tough at Christmas time, and they usually need all the support they can get.  But that year, I learned of a father who had chosen to be particularly cruel to his family.  Leaving them without warning for a life with his mistress just a few weeks before Christmas, this man had been the sole financial support for his family.  His now abandoned wife had five children to feed, house, clothe, and care for at Christmastime, and he had left them with nothing.  He took all their money, the bank accounts were in his name, and the court date was set after Christmas.  What were they to do in the meantime?  How was this mother supposed to explain to her children that Christmas may not come this year because daddy is a loser?  She had no family to help her, and the bills were due.  She couldn’t even pay their rent, much less the other utilities and Christmas toys beside.  Hearing their story, my heart broke, and I decided I’d try to help if I could.

With my mother’s support, I began asking different people for donations.  That is when I found my own little Christmas miracle.  I didn’t have a lot of people to ask.  Just my church and the local 4-H group.  I though maybe I could help cover the cost of their rent, or at least buy them Christmas dinner.  But suddenly, the money started flowing in.  I started getting anonymous checks in the mail; the donations became hundreds of dollars.  Toys showed up, canned goods started arriving, people stopped me in the street asking if they could help.  I’m not quite sure how the word got around, but the whole area came to this family’s aid.  Even the local grocery store gave me a $500 gift card to provide them with food.  When it was over, I had more than I could ever have dreamed of asking for.  We not only paid off her utilities for a few months, we brought in about 6 months of non-perishable food (including frozen meat).  We filled her basement, and had more stacked along her stairs.  Even better, I had enough left over to get them the food necessary for the best Christmas party ever.  They had orange juice, cheese, sausage, crackers, eggs, milk, ham, biscuits, potatoes, etc.  And then, there were the toys.  It was so much stuff that I couldn’t bring it all on my own, we had to get others to help haul it to the house.  Thanks to the goodness of the people in that town, the family got to have a Christmas after all.  They had their home, food to get them through until support checks would begin to arrive, and the best wishes of us all.  In the end, it remains one of my favorite Christmas memories.

So, if the world were going to fall apart today and if we were facing the end of the world as we know it, I know in my heart that there is still good in the world.  And if someone were to ask me why, well here’s my proof.  Because that year, those people did good!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: