a flicker of hope

Posted: July 5, 2016 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , , , ,

During a recent episode of Chopped, that sadistic show on The Food Network where accomplished chefs attempt to cook elegant meals out of disparate ingredients, one of the contestants was asked why he chose the restaurant business. He said he always loved food, but to his surprise he discovered the best thing about the profession was the people he worked with. He said, in essence, he has never seen people so passionate about their craft, so eager to work hard, and so dedicated to giving back to the community. He probably threw the word “blessed” in there somewhere because everybody does nowadays.

After a recent baseball game a player on the winning team was interviewed. He said it was a good win and then he tossed in the usual baseball clichés: It was only one game; it’s a long season; we can’t take anything for granted; the other teams are talented and can’t be underestimated. All the stuff you hear every day if you follow baseball, or any sport for that matter. He was then asked why his team has performed so well thus far. His answer: We have a great bunch of guys on this team. We help each other, everyone is anxious to contribute. Egos are left at the door. Really, this team has about as fine and selfless a group of players as I have ever been around.

An army veteran was recently interviewed on a news program about his war experiences in Afghanistan. He was wounded and returned stateside. He spoke eloquently about the comradery among the men and women in his unit, about how he could not imagine better people by his side during combat. He trusted every last one of them with his life. He said he served with best of the best and was very lucky.

Many years ago I worked in the financial services industry. On a bright September day a significant portion of the workforce was downsized en masse. I was among them, along with many friends and colleagues. I now belong to a Facebook group for folks who worked (and still work) for this company. Every day I read comments from people remembering the days before the organization changed direction. The overriding theme of these posts is how fantastic his/her co-workers were, how they were really an extension of family. People talk about those who inspired, helped, befriended, or just were there when a sympathetic ear was needed. They talk about decency. You can’t scroll ten lines without somebody fondly saying these folks were more than valued colleagues, they were terrific people.

Compliments like these are not limited to the service industry, athletes, military vets, or co-workers. If you make it a point to listen you will hear them all the time from people in every type of situation. “Officer Smith is a shining example of the positive impact police can have on a community.” “Somehow Gloria finds time to volunteer at the shelter every Wednesday while raising three beautiful children.” “When Mr. Wilson suddenly collapsed this unknown man, who was obviously in a hurry, nonetheless stopped and comforted him until the medics arrived.” Sometimes this adulation is directed at a single person, other times at a group of people. Regardless, they are always hanging in the shadows far more often than we may realize because it can be tough to see through the media’s fog of negativity.

Look, we all know the world can be and often is cruel and ugly. People treat each other with disdain, bitterness, and unfounded hatred. But whenever I am feeling deflated by the brutal attacks, senseless murders, political backbiting, casual rudeness, and a general feeling of grim reality I step back and listen for these positive affirmations. I listen because they reflect how the majority of people conduct themselves on a daily basis. If we dissipate the fog, examples of humility, grace, and kindness emerge. These stories are abundant and they ensure a flicker of hope continues to burn like an eternal flame. We only need to listen closer.

  1. Marie Rogers says:

    The idea of “survival of the fittest” is being replaced by the realization that cooperation and community are key to survival for many species, including ours. In nature, one specie contributes what another needs, and this is reciprocal. Scientists are finding more instances of these all the time. I am retired and do a lot of volunteer work. I see a lot of people working hard, without pay, to make the world a better place, even though they may not live to benefit from the results. Despite the problems we see on the surface, this world is a kinder place than most realize. Yes, there is good cause for optimism.


  2. writerinsoul says:

    I didn’t know exactly where you were going with this post (which I liked). Your conclusion is sound. The bad stuff SHOUTS at us; the good stuff whispers. Gotta listen closer. I like that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. rangewriter says:

    Thank you for a refreshing post and a good reminder. Sanity break!


    • John says:

      With the horrific murders of the policemen in Dallas last night and the seemingly two senseless deaths of black men the previous day, I feel somewhat deflated this morning. I will make it a point to take my own advice today. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Cathy Hurley says:

    Negativity is so often put on blast. I think it’s because it affects our shock factor. Definitely, the media uses this to their advantage. I love your observations. Someone once told me, “the angel in me, sees the Angel in you; the devil in me sees the devil in you,” It is the ownership of these good qualities in you, that appreciates them in others.
    Thank our parents!

    Liked by 3 people

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