Each day, through our constant exposure to television, newspapers and social media, we are buried under an avalanche of bad news. From the moment we start our day, until we turn off the light at night, we endure an onslaught of negative stories about people hurting and mistreating each other in heartbreaking ways. We are steadily worn down by the worst behavior that mankind engages in, to the point where it becomes easy to believe that the world is an evil place and that there is little hope that we can change it - but that is not the truth.
The reason humanity has survived is because, throughout history, good has always triumphed over bad.
Even during the darkest of times, good has ultimately prevailed. That is because we tend to be our own worst enemy, which means that most of our suffering is self-inflicted. Therefore, we always have the ability to change our actions and behaviors for the better.
However, it is quite easy to be swept up in the pessimism and despair that results from continually seeing human beings act without a sense of right and wrong. That’s why it is important to not allow the offensive news reports to overwhelm us.
One of the best ways of doing that is to make a concerted effort to pay attention to the good that happens all around us. If we will open our eyes and seek out the positive, we’ll be amazed by the multitude of quiet acts of consideration, kindness and compassion that are performed, without fanfare or public acknowledgement, by both individuals and groups of people.
But just because the positive acts do not receive the same level of attention as the negative stories, does not mean they are less powerful. On the contrary, they are proof that, no matter what our race, gender, nationality, political persuasion, religious faith or disability, our humanity is defined by the way we treat each other.
Recently there was a moment of clarity that put that fact in the proper perspective. It occurred several weeks ago as I was watching a television news story about the Special Olympics Winter World Games that took place in Austria.
As the report focused on the love, friendship and good will that was shared by the competing athletes, the news scrolled along the bottom of the screen, just like always, describing murders, violent crimes, brutality, cruelty and all of the other reprehensible behavior that human beings are capable of.
The stark contrast was compelling because it showed the best of humanity superimposed over the worst of our nature. But it was impossible not to be moved, because the smiling faces of the athletes were far more powerful than the bleak headlines.
We must remember that the only reason the negative stories we see on TV are considered news is because they are not the norm. The events they depict are an aberration. For every violent criminal, there are millions of people who lead compassionate lives.
That is why when good people join together as a group to support a cause they believe in, such as Special Olympics, they become an unstoppable positive force.
And that includes a nonprofit like ours.
In our particular case, the way in which the Meadows makes a difference is evident when a potential client, along with their family or guardian, visits our facility for a job interview. Typically, they are given a tour of our 42,000 square foot building. As they move through the different work areas, they get to see men and women, up close, performing their jobs. They see people with disabilities accomplishing tasks that many would not think possible. But because of the training and assistance we are able to provide, they are successfully employed in a safe and supportive environment. As they watch others working, the individual begins to think that maybe they could do the same thing. As the tour continues, you can see the look of hope that comes over the faces of their family. For possibly the first time in their lives, the parents begin to believe that their child could have the meaningful job they have always deserved.
Thankfully, there are countless corporations, businesses and organizations across America that are having a significant impact on their communities. Some of these entities are large and well known. Others, like ours, are smaller and receive less attention. But that doesn’t matter. All that’s important is that they are putting people’s needs ahead of the bottom line. They are using their influence to benefit society.
The Meadows is honored to join with all the other enterprises throughout the nation who attempt to make life better for everyone.
Our organization is proud to be on the side of good.
During the writing of this essay, an event occurred at the Meadows which proved the point I’ve tried to make. One afternoon, an individual appeared at our place of business, unannounced, to give us a financial donation. This person, who we did not know, walked into our lobby and presented our Executive Director with a check for ten thousand dollars.
Although acts of kindness certainly do not have to be financial in nature, this is a powerful example of one person’s incredible thoughtfulness and generosity. It is a perfect reminder that there are good people all around us.