Rolling my cart down the aisle of a fine grocery store, I arrived at a shopper whose cart was blocking my path while he was browsing the nearby shelves. With a polite tone and a smile I said, “Excuse me, sir, I need to get by you.”
BRUSK RESPONSE FROM A BULLY
He glared at me icily, almost threateningly. His response: “Now let’s see, I can stay here and take a minute to find what I want, or I can move my cart while you walk by and lose three minutes.” His words stunned me. Doesn’t every shopper, I wondered, know not to get in the way of other customers—and to move if somebody asks you to graciously?
Realizing how violence escalates these days in ordinary places and situations, I felt that responding to his rudeness might ignite his already obvious temper. Soon he moved his cart, and I walked silently to the next aisle, a bit shaken and also relieved that nothing happened beyond unwelcomed words.
A CONSIDERATE STRANGER HELPS ME INSTANTLY
Let’s shift to another scene in the same grocery store, a week later. Reaching for an item on the top shelf, I brushed against a container that I couldn’t catch on its way to the floor. However, I didn’t have to pick it up. A customer standing a couple of feet away grabbed the box and replaced it on the shelf. He smiled as I thanked him.
CRIME SURROUNDS US–AND SELF-TALK COULD BECOME PESSIMISTIC
These vastly contrasting incidents prompted me to think about how you and I view the world we live in. Every day, we read, watch and hear detailed stories about crimes of all sorts—shootings, molestations, robberies, murders, embezzlements and other horrible law violations you and I could name.
So when I’m talking to myself, seems logical that I should say: “There’s no hope. Mean people have taken over. Everybody is out to get me and my loved ones. Only a matter of time till my number is up.”
FOCUSING ON THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE OUR LIVES BETTER
Now let’s consider what Paul Harvey would call “the rest of the story.” With every broadcast and publication that gives “Breaking News” about disasters, we also learn about the remarkable array of charitable organizations that meet human and spiritual needs. There’s our health care system, ever-expanding in specialties, facilities and innovative procedures–and protecting us during unprecedented crises.
In the education arena, parents of school children applaud the immeasurable dedication of teachers who make learning interesting and highly beneficial. Consider too the not-for-profit staff and volunteers who rescue the homeless, hungry and hopeless.
KEEPING THE POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE
Yes, our media must publish the sometimes brutal and sickening reports about the criminal element that threatens our serenity and safety. Very fortunately, though, news anchors, reporters and editors easily identify the hundreds of generous, caring, helping, healing and building leaders among us and feature them too.
I invite you to join me in picturing the guy who picked up my dropped item, rather than picturing the bully with the obstructing buggy. And using that positive perspective, when we read about threatening thugs and thieves, let’s understand that even in this troubled world our assets far outweigh the liabilities, because of wonderful people committed to making our lives better every day.