Thursday, May 31, 2012

Should I help?

I found myself stopped at an intersection on a wintery day. Strong arctic wind battered my car. I spotted a young woman who stood alongside the street rubbing her bare hands together and dancing in place to keep warm. Beside her rested a sign that read, "I have a baby and no food." Her face showed she had been crying, likely from the pain of the bitter wind. On that icy day as I waited for the light to turn, I felt conflicted about that young woman. I figured she was probably staying at one of the women’s shelters in the area and wondered if her baby was there now, as there was no child in sight. Should I give her money? She was obviously in need. And whether or not she actually had a baby at all really didn't matter. I gave up guessing people's motives and analyzing their stories long ago. It was cold. She was cold. And she apparently felt she had to be there. What should I do? How could I help? What was best? As I wrestled with these questions, a window rolled down from the car in front of me and a hand shot out holding a warm pair of gloves. The driver had taken her own gloves off and gave them to the shivering woman. I saw the young woman mouth the words "Thank you" as a broad smile lit up her face. It occurred to me that, as I debated, somebody else helped. As I hesitated, someone else acted. As I tried to decide the BEST way to assist, somebody else just did what she could. In other words, as I did nothing, someone else did SOMETHING. I made myself a pledge that day to always try to do SOMETHING. And I’m not just talking about giving money. I’m not even talking about the homeless, necessarily. Where there’s a need, there’s an opportunity. So I promised myself that, whenever or wherever I spotted a need, I would try to do SOMETHING. I don’t want to underestimate what I CAN do. Where there’s a need, there’s an opportunity. My action may not turn a life around, but it can make some kind of difference. And I’ll trust that the something I do, no matter how small, will be better than the nothing I might have done.

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