A more robust culture

Being thoughtful probably seems like a luxury in times like these, but it might be fundamental to the survival of America. The increase in crime and corruption can be very intimidating. We watch the news and see what’s going on in the world and become overwhelmed. We know activists and charitable organizations are working against the dark forces that threaten us, but personally, we feel helpless. That’s because we have forgotten how important our contribution is. We have a lot of influence on the lives of the people around us. Relationships are a potent force. That’s why despots always try to isolate us and break those bonds. Strong communities are a bulwark against tyranny.  

I was at a mall the other day, and a lady was cleaning the restroom full-time. She had rubber gloves, a bucket, and a mop. She stood guard by the sinks, attentively keeping the restroom sparkling clean despite heavy traffic that Saturday. Her dutiful attitude and pleasant but stoic demeanor gave her a quiet dignity that left me humbled. With all the stimulus money floating around, she probably could have stayed home, but she chose to do this thankless job. That’s the problem -- it is a thankless job. Think of the difference it would make in this wonderful lady’s day if every woman who went in there was visibly grateful for her work and treated her with respect. I’m not saying that cleaning bathrooms is a fun job, but the acknowledgment would make it more rewarding. Those signs of appreciation are the glue that holds a society together.

Much of the pain in this world is not caused by our circumstances but by people’s reactions to them. When faced with adversity in our lives we often wonder: What will people think? What if I need help? Will I be alone? What if we knew no matter what crisis that beset us, we would never be rejected? What if we knew the people of the community would always value and support us? I understand a sweeping change like that is unlikely. The whole “man’s inhumanity to man” thing will always be with us in this mortal realm, but what if we think locally? What if we focus on our town, our neighborhood, our street? 

There are many malevolent forces fragmenting our country right now, but the ties that are being broken are made up of thousands of small acts of kindness. So, it is up to us to rebuild them. We must be vigilant and look for opportunities to nourish the souls of our fellow man. When faced with a challenge, knowing we have allies gives us courage. We can provide the reassurance that others need to sustain them. A word of encouragement, a note of appreciation, or an expression of support can change a person’s life. If we recognize our power, we can use it to make the cares of the world much more manageable for the people around us. Our efforts will reinvigorate our society and build a more robust culture. Together we will fortify our communities against assaults from any miscreant, big or small.

Image: Notional Archives

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