It's no secret that I love the NPR series This I Believe. I've enjoyed exploring the This I Believe data base over the past few years. For several years, I've enjoyed helping students write "This I Believe" essays. I've enjoyed reading my students' "This I Believe" essays.
What I really like about the essays isn't that they are all especially well written. Some aren't. Yet, they all touch on our shared humanity, shared basic truths that many of us lose sight of in our daily lives.
One of those basic truths is that good is just as communicable as evil. We just pay more attention to evil and bad news. Norman Corwin nails this in his essay by the same title, "Good Can Be as Communicable as Evil," when he writes, "So long as conscionable and caring people are around, so long as they are not muted or exiled, so long as they remain alert in thought and action, there is a chance for contagions of the right stuff..." What I especially like about this is that he places the onus of goodness on all of us...those who do not mute others as well as those who need to remain alert in thought and action. That's all of us.
Since late July, when I first started this journey, I've witnessed and been the recipient of an incredible amount of goodness. Friendships have deepened. I've seen what could be, and it is wonderful. The goodness of individuals may not solve all the world's woes. Evil and badness is still out there. The tragedy of Darfur will still exist. But we can all make the day-to-day lives of other people, no matter how bad the larger circumstances are, better by doing what we all know we should do.
And we all know what we should do. We all know we should help the little old lady across the street, so to speak. Some of those acts of kindness may be truly random. Others, not so much. They may require some planning and intention on our part. When it comes to goodness, procrastination doesn't work so well. I'm probably the worst when it comes to this. And I've missed my opportunity more than once. Ultimately though, we should all put others first more often.
What is "good" that doesn't happen? Is the net effect neutral? I think not, because the effect of goodness is so much greater than nothing. And when we pass Good on to others, they are more likely to pay it forward, allowing it to grow exponentially.
The economy might stink. We might all be bringing home less money and paying more for insurance, groceries, and utilities, maybe, just maybe, we could all feel a little better, more appreciated, more cared for, not so alone.
I know that being the recipient of goodness over the last 9 or so weeks has made a huge difference in my life.