Red Cross. Give what you can.
Call it my Southern Baptist upbringing, call it a choice or call it ridiculous, but I believe in angels.
I'm a reasonably intelligent person I think, and I am happy to stand up among the cynics and announce that even at my grown up age, I remain absolutely persuaded that angels walk among us.
Not those fantastic winged things that first crept into our art during the reign of Constantine, but rather a functioning group of both spiritual and human armies, if you will, that stand ready to do good at the precise moments in life when human beings so desperately need to know good still exists.
Right on cue, since the day Katrina tore through the lives of Americans on the Gulf Coast, angels have been out in full force. You have only to turn on your television or pick up a paper to see them.
A lady doctor from Kansas loads her SUV to the top with medical supplies and medications and heads out to Mississippi to care for the broken and aching. "Who is paying for all this?" asked the reporter.
"My American Express card," she answered.
An anesthesiologist in the heart of The Big Easy stays for days in his hospital fort without food and with only the smallest amount of water so that he can keep a promise to about thirty or so evacuees. "I told them I would care for their animals until help came…no matter how long it took." And so he did.
A tiny church here in Southeast Kansas that heard about the supplies drive I have been coordinating and dug so deep I'm sure some of them will have to do without something in their daily lives to bankroll their giving. Bags upon bags of powdered baby formula, Tylenol, garbage bags, Ziplocs, crayons and coloring books they brought. "We also have $500 to give," their spokesperson said. We sent them to the Red Cross with the money and will send their donations to a Louisiana town that has requested help.
The families all across this country that are giving what the rest of us either aren't capable of giving or are too afraid to give… a life inside their own homes. They provide beds, food, water and even more than that, the magnificent gift of a most selfless love.
The police officer that knew a man wandering around New Orleans needed an antibiotic. He got a doctor to write a prescription and then set out to find the homeless man. "I can't believe you went to all this trouble just to find me," said the man overwhelmed with gratitude. From the look on his face and the emotion in his voice, I knew that even amid the destruction in which he stood knee deep, he had never in his life felt as valuable as he did at that moment.
In this country and abroad, regular human beings who quite possibly never before have performed what might qualify as an act of greatness, are springing into action without even a second thought. They don't have to be asked, they don't have to be persuaded and most of them cannot be described as affluent. They give no thought to what the bottom line of their bank account reads or what they do not have, but instead think only of what they do have…and then they share it.
Ordinary angels. Next door angels. Far away angels. Evidence of good. Evidence of God.
As I watch the events in this country play out, let me share with you what I will take hold of now. I will keep my eyes peeled for the angels and when I see one, I'll say, "There's one!" I'll be inspired by the way they push past the anger and get up out of their comfort zones and work to heal that which needs healing and following their lead, I'll do whatever I can to help.
In this country, there are a huge number of those that have infinitely more than do the rest of us. Many of the famous we see now showing up with supplies and hugs for the hurting. I'm thankful they are giving and thankful that some of the money our citizens have bestowed upon them is now being given back in good measure.
But, while watching a movie star hand out food and supplies off the back of a truck to a grateful crowd, I thought, "Just how many of those hurting people have contributed to the bank account of that person?" Whether they bought a movie ticket, or bought a product that helped to pay the salary of the movie star, I venture to say if we could somehow see the flow of money, we'd see a giant circle.
I call upon the rich and famous, the wealthy and the well to do to become angels in a way they never have before. Let's see a movie star buy an apartment complex in the Midwest and fully furnish it for the Gulf Coast evacuees. Let's see a wealthy corporate business person buy ten houses on dry land and everything needed to set up housekeeping and give them to the homeless. Let's see a television star step up and open one of their three homes to those that don't have even one.
If you are sitting at home listening to the "haves" attack the government for not doing a better job, ask yourself what else they are doing.
Are they giving until it hurts like the legions of ordinary angels that are too busy doing to spend time talking about what needs to be done? Or are they giving only the tiniest fraction of what sits in their multiple bank accounts or donating their famous shoes for auction or delivering food in front of a TV camera for which someone else wrote the check?
Don't forget it was you and it was me and it was the thousands of now homeless men and women who have provided their good fortune and rather than jumping on their band wagon of vicious words, let's ask them to give at least a good portion of what we gave them back. It's easy to give ten thousand dollars when you have ten million.
There is enough anger and disappointment to go around. I'm angry and you should be, too. But now I say let's collectively shut up at least long enough to do something. And while we go about the business of helping in whatever way we can, let's make a mental note of who is doing and who is only doing the talking and when the time comes again to decide which movie to see or which TV show to watch or which product to buy, let's remember and act accordingly.
But most importantly, let's look for the angels now and let's follow their lead by giving and giving and giving whatever we have to give for as long as the need exists.
"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
John F. Kennedy, 1961
Copyright © 2004-2005, Sherri Bailey
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