This thought keeps bubbling to the surface for me: We are here to take care of each other. In a world of competition and keeping our heads down, can this thought really survive?
I watched a video the other day, and if I could find it again, I would share it. But don’t hold your breath, I have no earthly idea how I even stumbled on it in the first place. It was one of those hidden camera things, where the filmers arrange for actors to play a part as someone in need, in random places like diners or malls. Then, they see who will step up and help. In this particular case, the hidden camera was put on a street corner where a woman and her child were dressed to look homeless. The mother was obviously trying to find non-existent money in the bottom of her bag, right by the bus stop.
It was fascinating to watch folks step around her and her child to pay their fare and get on the bus. Some seemed to be torn, not sure what to do. Others seemed completely annoyed, as if the woman and her child were ruining the scenery.
I’m not sure, but I think they recorded five people stopping, and asking if they could help out. Out of MANY. The most interesting thing? They did this study in big cities, but some small ones, too. Stop right here, and hazard a guess: Where were people more helpful? Big or small cities?
Did you guess?
BIG. Can you believe it? I’m a lover of my small town, and it really shocked me to hear that. But after thinking about it, I had this quandary: Is it easier to help those we don’t know? Ones we couldn’t possibly have any real judgement about, because we don’t know their story?
I don’t know, truthfully. The video only presented the facts.
A couple of weeks back, my son wrestled in Regionals, in this tiny little town in South Dakota. We stayed at a small motel that seriously could have had Norman Bates at the front desk. (My daughter found a little hole in the wall, and we wondered out loud if Norman himself was spying on us in a dress and heels) I don’t know that I’ve ever stayed in such a motel, and certainly my children haven’t. My Littlest, Quinn, who is six was going on and on about it. “Mom! It’s weird here! I wish I could just sleep outside!” and it continued this way. I listened, and then said to him: “Quinn, can you hear the wind? And look at the snow beginning to fall. We are toasty warm, here in this clean bed. It’s not fancy, like other places we’ve stayed, I know. But do you know, there are people in the world tonight who don’t have a warm bed; somewhere to stay out of the cold?”
His little eyes grew wide in astonishment. “Is that really true Momma?”
He laid on his side of the bed for a while, not saying anything in the dark. And then, “Do you know what, Mom? When I get big, I’m going to help those people. The ones you said were cold.“ And then seeming to consider his own words… “I will.”
The prayer that was in my head that night, was this: Dear God, help me to be the kind of Mom who raises children that will make a difference.
I love having children that belong to me. But I want them to belong to the world, too.