Life Support Systems
By Steve Goodier © 2003
JUST DO SOMETHING
I once stopped behind several cars in an intersection. The winter weather was icy cold and a strong artic wind blew relentlessly. Ahead of me a young woman stood alongside the street rubbing her bare hands together and dancing in place to keep warm. Beside her rested a sign that read, "I have a baby and no food." She was obviously crying, likely from the pain of the cold wind.
Homeless and unemployed people are a common sight in many of our larger cities, and most motorists drive by without offering assistance. They have no doubt been taught that giving money fosters a dependent lifestyle, or the ready cash may be used to purchase alcohol or another substance rather than the food it was intended for. Like me, they may have been taught that one should give to a local charity or through one's church, as these institutions can help those in need far more effectively.
This, of course, is true, but I am reminded of the college students who encountered a homeless man on the sidewalk. One of the students took a couple of dollars from his wallet and handed it to the unfortunate stranger. His friend commented, "Why did you do that? He's just going to spend it on booze or drugs." The student answered, "Yeah…like we're not!"
As I waited for the light to turn, I felt conflicted about that young woman. Whether or not I should give money, she was obviously in need. And whether or not she actually had a baby really didn't seem to matter. I gave up guessing people's motives and analyzing their stories long ago. It was cold. She was cold. And she obviously felt she had to be there. On the other hand, I had no such needs, so I felt conflicted. What should I do? Give her money? What was best?
As I wrestled with these questions, the window rolled down from the car in front of me and a hand shot out holding a warm pair of gloves. The driver took her own gloves off and gave them to the shivering woman. I saw the young woman mouth the words "Thank you" as a broad smile lit up her face.
I debated – the driver helped. I wanted to determine the BEST way to assist – she did what she could. I did nothing. She did something.
I made myself a pledge that day to always do SOMETHING. Whether it is big or small…just do something. Any something is better than nothing!
Educator Leo Buscaglia said, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." Don't underestimate what you CAN do! Each of us can do something, and the something you do may be more important than you'll ever know.
By Steve Goodier © 2003