Recently I asked the High School Bible class I teach if the world consisted of more bad people or good people. It was interesting to me that the unanimous response of the class was that the majority of people were bad. I was not too shocked by their response though. We train our children from the youngest of ages not to talk to strangers for fear that someday they may come into contact with someone who might lure them away. We are fearful to answer our front door when someone knocks because we don’t know who it is or what they might want. Here in the city we live in locked houses with alarm systems and play in fenced yards because of the fear that a bad person might come and get us.
I just don’t think there are that many bad people out there. On most days the news headlines focus on a hand full of tragedies that have happened in the area around us. Stabbings, shootings, rapes, assaults and so many other horrible things. I am not belittling the tragedies that impact those individuals and families. But these events have happened in a population of approximately 7 million people in the area of North Texas where we live. Over the course of a year, all those tragic events would barely impact 1% of the population where we live.
When tragic events occur, like the storms in Oklahoma, the good people get highlighted. Among the tragic loss of life are stories of teachers throwing themselves over children, sacrificing their bodies to deflect the impact of cinder blocks, lumber and even cars. The stories of these men and women clinging to children as if they were their very own highlight the goodness in the hearts of these gifted professionals. The onslaught of volunteers, donations, prayers and assistance from around the world highlight the goodness and willingness to help of millions of people. Unfortunately people don’t tune into the news to see the good things that people are doing day after day.
Goodness can be seen in our day to day lives in the courtesy we extend to others. Sure, there are those around us who are impatient and at the end of their rope, but our patience and generosity can go a long way in refreshing their weary soul. Every day I see people doing good, kind and helpful things. Do you?
I know that a big turning point for me was my time on the Appalachian Trail. (Today’s post is a part of the “Lessons From the Trail” series.) Strangers going out of their way to help me even though I looked and smelled pretty bad. When someone pulled over to give me a lift to town I had to trust that they only wanted to help and not harm. Many times those good people went out of their way to lend a helping hand. Strangers letting me stay in their home was among the most heart warming of experiences on the trail. My entire journey on the trail was one that renewed my faith in the goodness of humanity.
I am baffled sometimes by the different perspectives that exist regarding our society. Recently my wife heard someone say that we [Christians] are more persecuted today than in Roman times. Last time I checked we weren’t being crucified upside down by the hundreds and set on fire to light the roads because of our belief in Jesus. In our society we are free to believe as we wish and only on rare occasion will someone find themselves as the target of unwanted attention. As a country we can freely own and read our Bibles, speak about God and our belief in Him, and we can even set aside a day as a country where we pray. Sounds like a pretty nice place to live.
I’m not sure if it is just the people I know, but I have also heard some refer to school teachers as agents of the government who are seeking to brainwash our children and detach them from the family unit. Really? The same ones who selflessly threw their bodies across those young children to protect them in Moore, New Milford and so many other places? I come from a family of educators and last time I checked none of them had secret identities or motives. They simply love children (and students of all ages) and want to impart to them the knowledge and training they have worked hard to develop.
We are not living in a time of persecution, and secret government agents are not trying to destroy the family unit. If anything we live in an era of ultra paranoia induced by too much information and too much speculation. Too often we allow the things we see on TV news and read on the internet to impact the reality that we experience around us. There are some jerks out there, but even the jerks aren’t truly bad people. There are a ton of good people who are friendly, helpful, intriguing and genuinely desire what is good for their family and the community. We also realize there are a few bad people out there, but when we think that everyone is bad and out to get us it damages our families, churches and society.
My suggestion…turn off the news, talk radio and constant flood of negativity from the internet. Get out and experience reality for yourself. Get your hands dirty. Get sweaty lending someone a hand with some work. Invite the neighbors over for dinner. Volunteer with a service organization. There is enough good stuff and awesome people out there to restore your faith in the genuine goodness of people.
One last thing… I try my best to be helpful and I want to give you something. I am running a giveaway on my site that is completely free and will give you a great resource. Jon Acuff’s latest book “Start” is all about overcoming fear and doing things that really matter. It is a perfect book to go along with today’s thought. You can click here to go to the post and register to win at the bottom of that page. Go make it a super day!