Most people come to this earth with a natural instinct to want to help their fellowmen. That inborn tendency prompts us to stop to help change the flat tire of a stranded motorist, leap to help reunite a strayed child in the grocery store with her frantic mother, or return the purse accidentally left in a shopping cart to the customer service desk. Occasionally we receive that kind of help from a total stranger. Hopefully we give that kind of help to a total stranger.
Learning how to get along by doing good for one another is one of the reasons we're here. So lately there's been a lot of "I wish I could help" crossing the lips of millions of ordinary people. "I wish I could help." "I wish I could do something." They're talking, of course, about people half a world away whose world crashed down, then drowned, then smoldered, and now shudders under clouds of deadly vapors. And millions of good hearts are stirring. With this kind of startling, shocking disaster, hand-wringing isn't enough. People want to do more. You can hear it. Feel it.
Many turn to searching online for ways to help. There are a lot of relief efforts out there. Most of them are a "send money" way to help which, if you can, is a distant way to assist. But what about people who have more heart than pocketbook?
One woman watching television news coverage noticed that the survivors of the earthquake, tsunami, fires, and nuclear meltdown were trudging through devastated ruins in falling snow. Falling snow, mind you. As if their ghastly situation wasn't bad enough already. She responded to an inner desire to do something by taking a quilt she'd just finished to the local humanitarian center. "It was just one quilt," she said. "But I had to do something.
One quilt, sent half a world away, hopefully to wrap around one person's shoulders just to say that a total stranger cared. One act of kindness equals one moment of relief. But like she asked, "What more can a person do?"
That question asked randomly brings varied responses. The quilt sender observed that if one person can make one quilt, then five people can make five quilts, and so on.
"It's a tangible thing that can carry a message to where it's needed even when the person who made it can't," she said.
A wise friend expressed an uncommonly visionary thought by observing that people who care can raise children who care, children born and reared to solve problems. He added that if the right connections between their brains and their hearts are nurtured, then the next generation will know enough -- and care enough -- to invent better warning systems, or ideas for stronger buildings, or how to use satellites to predict earthquakes or volcanoes months before they happen, or how to create counter forces greater than nature's ravaging powers.
Another said that her contribution was to take care of herself and her family so they, at least, wouldn't take resources away from those who really need them.
Another answered with one word: "Pray."
Very global thoughts, very visionary people. Ideas grown from wanting to help when doing so seems otherwise impossible, and hand-wringing is not enough.
It's no stretch of the imagination to believe that global need is not only ever present but growing. We can beat ourselves into exhaustion trying to meet it -- or figure out how to become less reactive, more proactive.
Newscasts show faces of people half a world away who need to know someone cares. When ordinary human beings translate their thoughts--their visionary, caring, faithful, hopeful, charitable, selfless thoughts from caring into doing, then that kind of suffering will be relieved. We may not see exactly how, but as long as we keep our hearts plugged into our heads, it will be.
Even if it's one quilt at a time.
Summarize their thoughts: visionary, caring, faith, hope, charity, selflessness. Back to the beginning with the realization that humans' inborn trait is to want to help others, and fortunately along with that inborn trait are traits that help us help others.
One quilt at a time.
You may reach Louise Brown at email@example.com or by calling her editor at 801-625-4223.