By Ginger Costen
Is it just me or is the planet turning into one big miserably unhappy sink hole?
We’ve got countries which have hated each other for hundreds - if not thousands - of years who have been trying to destroy their neighbors and themselves in one way or another since Biblical times.
Global warming and the destruction of the rain forests have changed the Earth’s climate so what used to be a 100-year storm is now happening with every changing season.
There’s not enough food and we’re losing farmers as fast as the banks can foreclose on what was once a multi-generational endeavor. We’ve tried to fool Mother Nature by changing the natural composition of what was meant to meet the nutritional needs of our bodies and now we’re paying the price with mutated genes and disease.
America, the leader of the Free World and the “land of milk and honey,” can’t even find - let alone elect - a group of mature adults who can get along and play nice long enough to accomplish anything but furthering their own personal or political party’s hidden agenda. We have people who can’t afford to feed or help educate their children and our leaders are giving themselves a raise while also sending billions of dollars in foreign aid to a group of people who can’t wait for the chance to turn around and kill us and their neighbors.
We’re supposed to be the leader in human rights and the world’s mentor for treating our fellow man with dignity and respect, and we can’t even send our children to school or take our family to the movies without worrying about someone deciding today would be a great day to use a gun to make a statement.
Isn’t there anything good happening on this Big Blue Planet of ours? Is there a good news story anywhere? Is anyone happy? Hold on a minute while I turn on the 1988 Bobby McFerrin (no not Bob Marley) hit song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and go check the Internet for even one story that tells me we’re not losing the battle to the dark side.
I’m amazed. It’s not nearly as bad as I thought. After reading numerous web sites such as dailygood.org, karmatube.org, happynews.com and Be Happy by Purina on Facebook, I found the following story on helpothers.org:
--posted by cyana on Feb 14, 2013
I spent most of my early adult life looking through them. I was busy. I was working. I was raising a family and running errands. I had things to do.
If you didn't look at them they weren't there, right? You know, those bedraggled looking people on the corner with a sign in their hand. I only wanted the light to turn green fast enough so that I wouldn't have to keep pretending not to see them.
They were mostly invisible to me. I refused to see them, and that's how I wanted it. Because I just didn't have the time.
Then, one day, as I was holding the hand of my best friend who was way too young to be dying of breast cancer, she told me that she made every moment count by slowing down-- by being in the moment, and by seeing everything. I held her hand for five years and then she passed away. This isn't a story about cancer, so please forgive me, but she did teach me something. It took awhile for her message to really sink in. I can be a slow learner.
I started by seeing everything. At first that was great. I saw the flowers and the sun and the clouds and puppies and rainbows...
Then, I saw them.
You know, the people on the corner with the signs. It made me uncomfortable to see them, and I had to ask myself, "Why?"
After awhile, I realized that my apathy towards the homeless was what made me uncomfortable. Then, I thought,What if I traded apathy for empathy?Would that really be so bad?
The next homeless person I saw was a Vietnam veteran, according to his sign. I parked my car and got out. I went up to him and told him he mattered. I asked him what would make his day.
"A hot cup of coffee," he told me.
So we walked across the street to a little diner and I bought him a cup of coffee, a stack of pancakes, some eggs, bacon and hash browns. He talked, and I listened. He talked, and I was the one blessed by his presence. I told him how I used to look through people like him, but that day, I had decided to open my eyes and to really see the world. I told him he was the first homeless person I had ever spoken to.
After our meal together, I asked him if there was anything else that would make his life a bit easier. He said the only other thing he wanted was to get enough extra money that day to buy a new pair of socks.
He said he'd been wearing the same pair for a few weeks. A simple luxury that I take for granted, there are always clean socks in my dresser drawer. I actually happened to be wearing an exceptionally nice pair of wool blend hiking socks at that very moment. I told him that I wanted to give him the pair I was wearing, if he would accept them. I had only been wearing them a few hours.
At first, my new friend refused.
I told him it would make me happy if he would take them.
Finally, he agreed. We sat down on a bench, and he proceeded to first take off his boots, then peel the black socks that had once been white off his feet. I think a layer or two of skin might have come off with them.
As I took my expensive hiking boots and socks off, I was a bit embarrassed by the luxury that I took for granted. I then quickly stuck my bare feet back into my boots, assuring my friend that I had many fine pair of socks at home.
As my friend took his new pair of socks, he held the socks up to his cheeks and said they were warm and smelled as good as me. Goodness!My cheeks must have flushed.
Then, he slipped them on, remarking, "These are the nicest socks I've had in a long time."
We shared a hug, I made sure to hold the hug a few extra seconds so that my friend would know he did matter to me. When I pulled back, pools of tears were welled up in his eyes.
I don't know how I held it together, but I did, at least until I made it back to my car.
Such a simple luxury I used to take for granted. Now, I always have an extra pair with me in my car. They are always my best pair, just waiting to be given away.
That was just one of hundreds of great stories about people helping others or ideas for making a difference. I’m a changed person! Let’s start right here in Webster, Dudley and Oxford or wherever you’re reading this column and put on a happy face. Send me an email about what makes you happy or better yet, how we can make others happy and I’ll make it next week’s column. Come on, what have you got to lose? Maybe we can start a national “Be Happy Day.”
Wait… do we already have one? We have National Pig Day and Peanut Butter Lover’s Day but no National Be Happy Day Why am I not surprised?