Since the Goose is one exit from Opryland and J. Percy Priest Dam, some of her new friends have been seriously impacted by the flood, and people I consider my friends though I have never actually met them (Pete, looking at you here...), the flood situation has been on my mind a bit lately.
At times like this, people often claim that character is revealed. I cry shenanigans.
History is replete with examples of people who were unequivocally, irredeemably nasty and rotten who "did the right thing" from time to time. Murderers who helped the needy, thieves who donated their time and energy, etc.
Conversely, there have been some pretty good people who, in a bad moment, did something that they normally would not do.
It is the very fact that people sometimes act out of character for them that shows the character they typically demonstrate is a choice, not an accident.
When disaster hits, many people, for reasons oft unexplained and unimaginable, rise to great heights, do great deeds, and help many people.
But there are others living among us who, while they never raise staggering amounts of cash or cloth thousands of needy or house thousands of homeless, yet they day after day do things worthy of recognition because those are the things that make the corner of the world they live in a little better.
It could be people like my friend Riot Kitty who selected her current place of employment not for money...she can and has made more elsewhere...nor for fame...many people have no idea what the acronym of her work stands for...but because it is something she believes in.
It could be people like my Dad. I know of many times when he could not afford his next meal but found a way to get one for the person who needed it. I have seen him provide emotional support to people devastated by some tragedy that deeply affected them but was not important enough for the newspapers to notice.
Sometimes it is the little things like those that really make the world bearable. The random card from the person who you seldom talk to that they just knew you needed to hear a friendly word.
The smile from the cashier at 7/11.
The offer of a ride when it is raining, even though it was not accepted.
It is not one of these things...it is the person who consistently does small things like these, not for reward, acclaim, or recognition, but because it is part of who they are.
It is a reason people like Greg Fischer, Lily Sauls, Dave Miller...why they are still missed long after they departed this world.
Dave Miller...classic example. Here is a guy much of the world criticized. He was a preacher, a man of out-sized girth...but the heart to match. He was mowing a widow's grass when a heart attack ripped him from us too soon.
That was typical of how he was, though. Most people did not know he did things like that, yet he was the epitome of Scripture when it says, " Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. " James 1:27
I think of someone like Grandpa Barton. He built a sidewalk for my Grandma Nash because she was his daughter in law's mother. He was the favorite of neighborhood kids even when he was in his late 70s...Vietnamese kids who could barely speak English, kids from broken homes, kids from a couple blocks away...they all were welcome in his shop and garden and they loved him.
Nobody outside the family probably remembers his name even though it has "only" been 15 years since he passed...but I know he made lives better while he was here in lots of small ways that might make a big difference for those people down the road.
I guess what I am really getting at here is not clear. It is just an observation that yes, in times of great tragedy, sometimes people elevate their character and go to great heights in accomplishing things. But there are some people who are even greater, even if we never know their names.
That would be the people doing the right thing every day. Quietly. Unnoticed. Unmemorable to those who do not know them. But greater than the famous and mighty all the same.
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