Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's a Bright Spot

Last week the people of the world were shocked because of the senseless act of one person. On Friday, at the opening of the new Batman movie, a lone gunman walked into a crowded theater and opened fire on innocent people, killing twelve and wounding dozens, not including the others who will be left to deal with emotional issues. 

Within a few short hours of the event, lawmakers, talk show hosts, mental health experts and others were trying to go inside the mind of a crazed mad man. Was he angry? Was it his upbringing? Was it easy access to guns? Violence on TV? May it’s punishment from a vengeful God? What makes a person snap?

The problem is there is no answer to this kind of tragedy.

It was a shameless, cowardly act by one crazy individual. There is no way to explain it. There is no way to justify it. There is no law that can be passed to stop something like this in the future. It happened. And we as the human race have to deal with it.

The good news is there are still good people in the world. The good news is most people, when given a choice, will try to help another human. The good news is love and peace is still alive and well in our crazy world.

I saw a great example on a train recently.

My wife and I were ready to go exploring downtown Dallas and see what kind of trouble we could get into. Instead of driving and trying to find a place to park and dealing with all those one-way streets, we decided to take the DART train. We picked up the train in Plano and enjoyed the 35-minute or so ride in peaceful, air-conditioned comfort.

Right after we took our seats another couple with a young little girl boarded the train. They sat down, took the little girl out of her stroller and helped her look out the window. The little girl was probably eight or nine months old, she couldn’t walk or talk but she had a smile that lit up the whole train. After a few minutes, we found out the couple was taking the little girl to the zoo for the first time. She seemed to be pretty stoked about that, even though I’m pretty sure she had no idea where she was going or what the train was all about. But on the trip she smiled at every little thing she saw.
Towards the end of our trip, an older gentleman boarded the train and plopped down in the seat next to the little girl’s father. He immediately struck up a conversation.

”That’s a pretty baby there,” he said.

The couple thanked him and continued to play with the little girl. The girl just smiled her smile.
The older gentleman may or may not have been homeless. He looked clean but his clothes were tattered and worn. His mouth was mostly gums. He carried a few belongings in a plastic grocery bag.
He asked a few more questions about the little girl, then he reached into his pocket.
Pulling two quarters from somewhere deep in his pocket he said, ”Here, this is for her piggy bank.” The father realized quickly the man didn’t need to be giving money away.

He said, ”I have like 12 of those in my pockets. You keep those.” He didn’t mean it in a bad way, he just wanted the guy to know he didn’t have to do that.

The gentleman was not deterred. ”It’s for her,” he said. ”I love kids.” The dad took the money.

I don’t know what else happened. But what I saw was a great scene. One man, who didn’t look like he had a lot of money, was willing to sacrifice a little to start a savings fund for a little girl he didn’t even know.

The little girl’s family didn’t strike me as rich by any stretch, but I’m sure they had a car and jobs and a home to go to every night. I’m sure they took care of every little need of that cute girl. She was fed, clothed and loved. And even though the little girl didn’t have a job, she made 50 cents in just a few minutes on a train.

The story reminds me of the widow’s mites in the bible. Jesus sees a group of wealthy men bringing a little of their money to the temple treasury. Then he sees a poor widow woman put in two mites. During Jesus’ day, the mite was the smallest amount of money available, basically a penny in our day. It wasn’t much but she didn’t have much. She gave anyway.

The same way with the man on the train. He didn’t have much. But he gave anyway.

I may not have the wealth of Bill Gates or the Wal-Mart heirs, but surely I have something I can give away. I have some time. I have a little extra money. I have an abundance of love and peace. Maybe there’s a way I can give away a little of that.

When events like last Friday take place, many people start to wonder. They are blinded by fear. They lose faith in humanity. What a perfect opportunity to reach deep into our pockets and pull out a little time or money or peace or even something as simple as a smile. 

It’s for the human race.

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