- Riots in Baltimore
- ISIS threats, both real and contrived
- The shooting of innocents in Menasha
- Multiple gun-related homicides in Milwaukee
- Oil rail disasters
- Climate change
- Corrupt politicians
- And on and on...
While all of this deserves attention and awareness, I choose to focus on good news, or good things happening in my life. If not for that I'd become a sociopath and start arming myself and digging an apocalypse shelter.
So I focus on glimpses of redemption like the Guest House, where we serve meals to homeless guys once a month. Little points of light in an increasingly dark world. This agency and those like it are working to change lives. I don't do much, but feel like I'm part of a greater good.
Or places like the Literacy Center of Wisconsin. This agency tutors adults on reading, writing and other educational skills. It helps people achieve their GED. What a gift to give a person; the ability to read a book, the newspaper or magazines. NO ONE should be denied that opportunity. I was fortunate to be able to donate a portion of my Written Life proceeds to this agency.
Or the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. I used to tutor kids at the Mission years ago. They had an after school program where they would bus kids in for a three part evening of,
1. A quick meal and gospel message,
2. Tutoring for an hour
3. Gym time.
There was great satisfaction in helping these kids. In doing it I realized how blessed I was as a kid growing up in the home I grew up in.
And then there's the church we're currently trying to kick start, CollectiveMKE. One of our members mentioned that a neighbor's house is being foreclosed on and would any of us be willing to donate a meal or something unbeknownst to the family? One person took it upon herself to notice a situation and try and change it. Why? Because it's what we're called to do because of our faith.
While not everyone helps with these kinds of services and agencies because of their faith, I think it is almost exclusively why I do it. I don't necessarily do it with an "agenda" or to convert anyone. I do it because I would want it done for me. I do it because my heart breaks to think of people not given a leg-up. I don't do it expecting anything in return; its a gift of time for me. And more often than not I go to bless and end up coming away more blessed. Often times, we take our kids because we think it's important for them to be part of something bigger than them. Paying the compassion forward to the next generation in a sense.
But I also do it because I'm a big old softie. In all of my personality assessments compassion always comes to the top.
So the next time you get overwhelmed by the crud and the crap and the tragedy that is the six o'clock news, I challenge you to do something other than shaking your head.
Write a check
Check on a neighbor
Call someone who's lonely
Pay for the next guy's coffee
But most of all, do something positive. We get enough negative from everywhere else.