There is undoubtedly pure evil in the world, a fact that was made abundantly clear on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut
. There is also undoubtedly those who are so self-absorbed in their own little world and their need for instant gratification, that they have somehow lost the ability for empathy, caring, concern and basic human kindness. Whether it is a lack of concern for the needs of human being, or another living creature, such harshness can be devastating.
This story is not about the Newtown tragedy, and it is not about how cruel and cold people can be towards others. It is a story about how generous the hearts of some can be. It isn't even a new story, but I believe that it is one that is relevant this time of year.
Too often we hear people say "I would love to help, but what can I do, I am just one person." The sentiment that one person cannot change the world has become the norm, possibly turning those with kindest of hearts, apathetic. One person alone cannot change the world, but it does take one person willing to stand up and make the effort in order for anything to happen. This story is about how just one person who chooses to make the effort, can start an avalanche of good.
Margaret Meade once said
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
It takes just one person willing to step forward, and just one more person willing to follow. On September 11, 2001, it took just one person aboard Flight 93
deciding to do something. It took someone else agreeing, and before it was over, a small group of committed people lost their lives, but they saved hundreds more.
It does not take a national tragedy to make a difference however, to be that "one person". This story is about Stanley
, a two year-old pit bull terrier who was dumped at an animal shelter in California.
Stanley had a severe case of mange, his body swollen and bloody and one eye swollen shut. He had no spirit left, seemingly giving up hope and resigned to the fact that he would be put to sleep at any moment. An animal rescuer who was at the shelter to pick up another dog saw Stanley and knew she had to help. She did not have a home for him, she did not know how his vet bills would get paid, but she knew she had to make the effort and help this desperate creature. She found Stanley at 8:00 p.m. on December 23rd and hoped that her willingness to make the effort would inspire a Christmas miracle.
The story of Stanley quickly circulated, and one by one others chose to follow the rescuers example of compassion. Donations to cover vet costs began pouring in, and a vet not only offered to stay open late on Christmas Eve, he offered a huge discount. Other rescue groups offered to take him into one of their foster homes, and offers to adopt Stanley were flooding in. In a matter of a few hours, just one person's willingness to offer a helping hand led to hundreds of people following.
That, in my opinion, is what Christmas is about. It is not about a Christmas tree and lots of decorations, not buying or receiving gifts, and not eating ourselves into a food coma on Christmas day. Christmas is about love and compassion, and taking the risk and making the effort help another living being, human or animal. Christmas is about Jesus coming into the world and teaching us how we should treat each other and all of God's creatures. It is not about what we can get out of it, it is about the love we have to give and how just one person, doing just one thing can indeed change the world for at least one living creature.
As 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us:
"Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."