Friday, January 19, 2007

The Right Thing

Wesley Autry is the 50-year-old Navy veteran
who was at a New York subway station waiting, with his two
daughters, for a train. When a 19-year-old man started to have
a seizure, Autry used a pen to keep the fellow from biting his
tongue. Later, when he had recovered and began walking down
the platform, the young man lost his balance and fell onto the
tracks, as a train approached. When he could not pull him out,
Autry jumped in and lay on top of the young man, between the
two rails, hoping the train would pass over them safely.

It did . . . and Autry is getting the praise and recognition
he deserves, but apparently doesn't want. He simply did
what we all think (or at least hope) we would do given a
similar situation. "I'm no hero," he said. "You should just
do the right thing."

The right thing.

Like the single mother who works two jobs, and gets up
every morning at 5 a.m., bone-tired and chilled by fatigue,
to make sure her kids have a hot breakfast, clean and
pressed clothes, and a lunch to take to school.

Like the teacher's aide, who instinctively wraps her arms
around the autistic child in the classroom who is starting
to get agitated and needs that comforting strength to get
him through those moments.

Like the fellow in the church who makes sure that a friend
who is battling cancer gets a call every day to check up on
him, and the woman at the retirement center who motors
around in her wheelchair seeing how her neighbors are doing.

They will never get the recognition Autry has gotten but,
like him, don't want it. They know, like Autry said, that
good things happen when you do good - things like grace,
like joy, like hope, like life. Simply by doing

the right thing.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Hopeful 2007

For 2007, I've resolved not to have any
resolutions. They are too hard to make,
and even harder to keep.

Instead, I have hopes for 2007:

I hope that finally the world will discover
the truth that to love one's enemy is the
way we should live. Yes, it is more difficult
to love than to hate that person/group/nation,
but we see every day what the alternative offers.

I hope silence will be one of the tunes
that people download for their iPods. In
this noisy, clanging, head-banging world,
we all could use more blessed quiet.

I hope that we will start focusing more
on the caregivers in our society than on
the celebrities. Instead of gawking at
the latest hottie getting out of a limo,
let's look at the father who day in and
day out feeds, bathes, dresses, reads to,
and loves the child with a disability.
Instead of ranting about the superstar
who got pulled over for driving drunk,
let's praise the mother who works 16 hour
days so her children have health care,
and the tools they need to better their

I hope we First World folks will finally
wake up and smell the garbage we are
creating by our refusal to recycle, by
our obsession to have the newest of
something instead of making do with
the older model, by our belief that
because of where we live, we have
earned the right to use up whatever
we want. (And I hope when we
smell the garbage, we will notice
the people, especially children, who
dig through it for their daily bread).

And (selfishly) I hope for a year with
no crisis, no traumatic phone calls,
no new diagnoses for and about Teddy.
After 15 years of having our physical,
emotional, spiritual, and financial
reserves depleted beyond empty, we
could use a break.

I hope these are not too much to hope
for this year.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman