Thursday, May 2, 2013

Look for the Helpers

They gave Linda Green a birthday party and what a party it was! But it had to be a surprise party so husband Willie took her to Macon for some shopping while the community of Wrightsville prepared the house and grounds for what was probably the social event of the year. Friends came from as far away as Atlanta and Columbus to celebrate with the family and pay their respects to a woman who has become a leader in this small southern town. Known by all as “Miss Linda” she works in a nursing home, helping the elderly with their problems while doing things in the community for anyone who needs a hand. “Miss Linda” is constantly involved in cooking for sit-ins, taking close to those in need and keeping an eye on neighbors who may need help getting to the store or with healthcare.

As I sat down to write about this wonderful woman, two bombs went off in Boston and my train of thought took a different turn, going from celebration to horror at the sight of people running, not in the Boston Marathon but from the noise or to help someone in need. And then I thought, we can all be Linda Greens in a way. Our wonderful country is loaded with people who will run to the aide of others when they feel the need. And so, as it does so many times when we have been faced with adversity, our media runs with the story and begin to focus as much on what the good people do as what the bad people have done.

The loss of an eight year old child is met with the heroics of a first responder saving another’s life. This is probably one of the things that make us different from those who hate. We find solace in the good our fellow citizens do and that makes us all feel better about whom we are and who we can become. Then we hear about Phillies’ outfielder, Ben Revere, who, having heard about the Boston tragedy, taped a message on his ball glove saying, “Pray for Boston”.

What a wonderful gesture from outfielder Revere that says so much about our country. We came together after 9/11 and we will come together again in the next few days as word of who was responsible and the positive deeds of those who heard the cries of help are told. As I write this I am comforted by the knowledge that we will find those responsible, but just as comforted in the knowledge that we will still be Americans, going to work, raising our families, attending churches and creating an environment where we all can prosper and grow as humans.

In a way, life is sort of like that Boston Marathon. We strive to run the good race, facing our personal demons, and confronting the evil brought to bear on ourselves and others while helping each other cross the finish line of life in a way in which we can all take pride. Some of us finish sooner than others and evil may have a temporary victory over good, but thanks to people like Linda Green and Ben Revere, evil never wins in the long run. May God bless the people of Boston and those who lost family members in this tragedy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fire in the Belly

I passed a turtle on the road the other day and couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking trying to cross a four lane road at zero miles per hour. It seems with the armadillos there’s enough road kill out there to feed half of Detroit.

When you’re my age everything tastes like chicken anyway.

But that turtle trying to cross the road makes you wonder, unless you understand that he really wants to get to the other side. If you watch carefully you’ll see him duck his head about the time you reach him. Obviously some higher order thinking skills here or why duck when a two ton car about to turn him into buzzard buffet passes by. Yes, you have to wonder what gets that turtle fired up enough to try to cross the road. I would guess it’s one of those basic needs we hear about.

Sort of like a politician’s need to be re-elected again and again. Some of us are turtles and take a little more time crossing the road (some become the armadillo) and others get there fairly quickly, like a squirrel for instance. It’s the fire we’re sometimes missing, the fire that burns in the turtle’s belly and moves him across the road.

When I read about some of our schools I want to ask, where’s the fire and who’s got the matches? I don’t give a rat’s rump about scores on a test. Also, I’ll let you in on a little secret, not all our kids are going to find the fire in college. Another apparently little known fact is that some aren’t even going to college. Where did we get this idea that all fires are lit in college anyway?!

If I were a high school administrator I think I would find a way to ask my faculty a couple of questions at the end of each year. “How many fires did you light this year and how many times did you become a fire extinguisher?” Those are the important questions. If you want to pay on merit (a good idea if they can get the fire extinguishers out of the buildings) find out who’s lighting fires. As a parent I would be asking the administrator, “Who do you have lighting a fire under my son/daughter?” Not, “uh excuse me Dr. Doolittle, can you tell me why Tabitha can’t score high enough on the SAT to get into UGA?”

The answer to that is as plain as the deer in the headlights look on Doolittle’s face. Tabitha is sitting on marble and her rear end is as cold as that armadillo that wasn’t fired up enough to cross the road. Tabitha will glow like a roman candle whenever someone lights her fire, be it teacher, parent or maybe somebody at church. There are fire starters everywhere so why have we put ourselves in this box of can’t strike anywhere matches when it comes to our kids? It’s time we began to develop children where we find them, stopped trying to push college for every child who enters the first grade, renew a since of gratitude for those people who can fix stuff that breaks around our houses and put some money in teaching vocational skills again.

Every time my toilet breaks I’m wondering what course I slept through at Georgia Southern that taught us the intricate workings of the commode. The answer is always the same…none. We’re reading articles that tell us the sky is darn sure falling if the governor cuts the budget for higher education. Well, there’s somebody out there all fired up about fixing toilets and sinks who isn’t all that concerned about the governor’s budget. I’ll bet ol’ Sonny himself needs a toilet fixed now and then.

Don’t get me wrong, studying art literature and history is time well spent but when you think about it you can read about these things. Teach your child to read and he or she will always be able to “study” art, literature or history. Take pride in that child of yours who wants to learn a trade instead of attending college. Ever ask yourself why scores are considered so important to school folks? It’s simple…they can be measured and compared. Fire, on the other hand, is something beautiful to watch but difficult to measure.