The un­sung an­gels among us

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - DAVID CAR­ROLL

When most believ­ers thank a higher power for the peo­ple in their lives, a men­tal list be­gins to form. It can in­clude chil­dren, a spouse, par­ents, and si­b­lings. The list nat­u­rally length­ens to ex­tended fam­ily and friends.

Per­haps a co-worker has asked for prayers for a fam­ily hard­ship or some­one is on the sick list at their house of wor­ship.

Al­though this list feels fa­mil­iar and com­fort­able, it is miss­ing many peo­ple. We do not even know their names.

Con­sider the times a com­plete stranger has pos­i­tively af­fected your life.

Are we equally thank­ful for those ac­tions, and those name­less new friends?

Have you ever un­know­ingly dropped some money, and a stranger picks it up and hands it back to you? Have you for­got­ten you placed an en­ve­lope on top of your car, drove off and sent it sail­ing through the air, and then had it re­turned to you by some­one you never met? Has your car ever slowed to a crawl, and then stopped run­ning on a sub-freez­ing Christ­mas night?

I have had all of those things hap­pen to me. By the way, when my car died on the in­ter­state, my wife and I man­aged to walk to a rest stop to call the High­way Pa­trol. A state trooper re­sponded and took us all the way home.

We have heard of “ran­dom acts of kind­ness.” But are they re­ally? Or are they the ac­tions of thought­ful, sen­si­tive peo­ple who are in­spired by an un­seen spirit?

Kind ac­tions are not al­ways grand ges­tures. My fa­ther-in-law, who passed away re­cently, loved to play peek-a-boo with tod­dlers in restau­rants. The gig­gles and smiles he earned for his ef­forts made him happy all day long.

It is not all about re­ceiv­ing the kind­ness of a stranger. It is also a won­der­ful feel­ing to be kind.

If we are run­ning be­hind when we get be­hind the wheel of our ve­hi­cle, we can be rude, and even dan­ger­ous. How­ever, if we make a con­scious ef­fort to leave a bit ear­lier, it is no great sac­ri­fice to al­low some­one to go first at a 4-way stop, or to walk in front of our car in a busy park­ing lot.

Get ready for a warm feel­ing when you give a dad a com­pli­ment about how well his chil­dren are be­hav­ing in a restau­rant. I can guar­an­tee you a smile when you thank a first re­spon­der for all he or she does. Next time you are in a long line at the gro­cery store, and a cashier an­nounces a new check­out counter has opened, in­vite the folks in front of you to jump over there.

Af­ter all, they have been there longer. This is such a rare oc­cur­rence, they will be amazed at your kind­ness.

Dur­ing this hol­i­day sea­son, and be­yond, let us rec­og­nize and give thanks for a kind­ness shown on our be­half. The cir­cle of love con­tin­ues when we show kind­ness to strangers. It does not cost a penny.

I once de­voted an en­tire col­umn to the rude peo­ple among us. Many read­ers told me, quite cor­rectly, that peo­ple who mis­be­have are out­num­bered by those who qui­etly hold doors open, give up their seat on a crowded bus, or help a wheel­chair user get some­thing off the top shelf.

We of­ten hear the phrase, “lucky to be alive.” If you are on the roads at all, you know that is true. Sadly, we lose many lives each year due to hu­mans who make mis­takes and bad de­ci­sions. You are able to read this col­umn be­cause th­ese peo­ple did not fol­low too closely, did not run a traf­fic light, and kept their speed at a rea­son­able level.

As our re­gion has en­dured many storms in re­cent years, name­less heroes cleared de­bris, un­tan­gled power lines, and un­selfishly pro­vided food, cloth­ing and shel­ter to those who lost ev­ery­thing. There never seems to be a short­age of vol­un­teers.

Here is the un­told story: we live in a na­tion where the huge ma­jor­ity of peo­ple do the right thing. They say please and thank you. They watch out for their neigh­bors when the heat or cold be­comes ex­treme. They put food and wa­ter out for the birds and other crit­ters. When the Sal­va­tion Army bell ringer cheer­ily greets them, they drop a few coins or bills in the red ket­tle. When the ball field at the school needs mow­ing, and the team can­not af­ford a mower, a Dad al­ways steps up to help. When their gar­den yields a strong har­vest, or their chick­ens lay ex­tra eggs, they find some­one with whom to share.

Yes, we have our prob­lems, and they get the bulk of the at­ten­tion.

That is why the Christ­mas sea­son is a good time to thank the un­sung,

ev­ery­day heroes. As the song says, they are the an­gels among us.

David Car­roll, a Chat­tanooga news an­chor, can be reached by mail at 900 White­hall Road, Chat­tanooga, TN 37405 or by email at [email protected]



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