A Denver radio station suggested that we honor the memory of those lost in 9/11 and in the war on terrorism by doing something to uplift someone that we know. Suggestions were inviting someone in great distress to our home for Sunday lunch, or helping someone clean the house, and the list grew and grew as callers provided their own ideas.
Like most people, I can tell you exactly where I was when I heard the news – just like I can take you to the exact place I was when the news broke that JFK had been shot. I am sure you remember as well. And I remember the next several days. People were actually driving the speed limit. Others would stop to let you exit the parking lot. They waited for others to walk across the street. They thanked you when you paid for your lunch. They did not complain, and actually spoke to one another while waiting in line at the grocery.
Two questions come to mind. After hearing the ideas on the radio about how we might uplift someone else from the difficult place they are in, I then notices many others making the same suggestions. There were several editorials in various newspapers, some online, some on other media. But, in almost every case, the person making the suggestion took credit for the idea. I do not know where the idea came from originally, but why is it that the writer of that article wanted you to think it was their idea in the first place? Why do we have to take a reminder of treating others as we should treat them every day and turn it into a marketing project? We are not actually making a generous gift when we need the spotlight pointed to the giver. That is called bragging, not giving. That is a definition of the problem this article raises. In giving, are we truly concerned with the other person, or just wanting to reassure ourselves that we are good people?
The other question is, why do we need events like 9/11? Isn’t our reaction actually the way we should behave every day? We expect people to respect our life, to understand that our life is important. Then we cut that same person off on the freeway, assuming they are pleased to give us room and avoid an accident. I wonder how far we would go in being self focused, instead of honoring others, if we never had another catastrophe – or another Christmas.
It is overwhelming to stop and sit in the mall and just observe people. The way they walk often shows the enormity of the burdens they carry with them. Sometimes they come to the mall just to escape from their lives for a few minutes. These days, they may not even be able to buy anything. And then they run into us talking to each other about how terrible it is that we had to pay and extra ten, or and extra one hundred dollars to get what we wanted.
It is wonderful to be couteous to others, to let them know they matter with a smile and a “hello.” It is a blessing to put ourselves aside once in awhile. But, why wait for a shooting or until a building comes down? Why not give that guy with the sign on the side of the road a dollar hamburger from the drive through? He might actually be hungry.