Role Models Live Next Door, Not On Tv


As I sat down on Thanksgiving Day to write this editorial, I was originally going to express my disappointment in the behavior of men in the news recently who allowed their tempers to get the best of them. This past week there have been numerous examples of men who are role models to our children, but who placed rage before reason and acted out of control.

My focus, however was shifted by stories that didn't make the headlines or the evening news.

Today, and every day in our small community, there are good men and women who exercise not only self-control, but also compassion and empathy.

Meals are taken to the homes of the sick. New mothers are offered help with chores. Rides are offered to the stranded. Someone in a hurry is allowed to go first at the checkout stand. An angry confrontation is avoided because someone was willing to turn the other cheek and keep things in perspective.

Despite the poor examples we may see on the basketball court, or from people in positions of leadership, I am grateful for the good examples around us every day. They remind us that the only real way to take care of ourselves is to make sure we are taking care of each other.

So in this season of giving thanks, I am very thankful for the caring and considerate people in this community. Their quiet acts remind me of a story I heard when I was young called "The Hindu Merchant's Dream."

A Hindu merchant dreamed one night that he died. To his bewilderment, he found himself standing in a large room, entirely bare of furnishings. He discovered a door in one wall bearing a sign that read, "For the damned." Having no other place to go, he opened the door and entered.

In front of him was an enormous table spread with the rarest delicacies of food and drink. Seated around the table were a number of people. Each was tied to a chair with his arm fastened behind his back. To the free hand of each person was fastened a spoon with a handle too long to be of use in getting food from the plate to his mouth. Although food fit for a king lay within inches of them, the poor wretches were obviously suffering from the final stages of starvation.

The Hindu quickly backed out of the room and closed the door. It was only then that he saw another door bearing a sign, "For the saved."

He opened the second door and for a moment he thought he had mistakenly entered the same room. Before him was a table spread with food. The people seated around it were tied to their chairs with one hand tied behind their back, a spoon too long for them to use was tied to their free hand.

The Hindu merchant became aware of one great difference between the people in the two rooms. Instead of starving miserably, the people in the second room were happy and well fed. Though their spoons were too long to use to feed themselves, they had realized they were not too long to feed their neighbors.

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