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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Wednesday, August 6 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

But really, what can you do
(to change the world)?

Caught up by the emotion of the movie, Pay It Forward, on Sunday, and having no other topic to use for Monday, I proposed some suggestions for making a difference in life. But like every other day I had second thoughts and found myself thinking, "but seriously, how much impact can any one person have in life?" Later on Monday while I was banging shut all the locker doors near me in my club, smiling inwardly I mulled over the sudden thought, "I wonder how many cases of blindness I've prevented by my daily closing doors that 'leave themselves' open after their renters leave them for another day."

Silly thought, but it sparked another observation that might be added to the collection of "aphorisms" that have been occupying our funnies corner for the past couple of weeks. It's this: Probably the best thing most people can ever do to make a difference in life is be courteous. And though it seems mundane compared with the seventh grader who unintentionally launched a national movement of "paying it forward," being courteous is no little thing. As a close second to "be courteous," I'd propose: "keep the rules." We all know this is not easy because of all the lives that have been broken by broken marriages and the resultant families, to cite just one category of "rules" seemingly getting harder to keep every year. Nor do I want to inspire legalism.

But even if you apply that aphorism to just "driving rules," or "driving-courtesy rules," you may make a life-changing, even life-saving, difference in more lives than you could ever guess. I confess to not adhering to the speed limits religiously, lest I make myself a hypocrit, but rules like not cutting people off, taking your turn, not their's, when you come to a four-way stop or comparable situation, not making yourself feel good ("superior") by "helping" someone ahead of you at the expense of the driver behind you...rules like that can make a real difference.

In my roughly 20 years of ministry to teens and college students it often seemed fruitless. There were weeks when I could do little more than sit in my Stanford office with my head in my hands, depressed by the recurring sense of failure. But occasionally, someone has got in touch, even in recent years so long after my "retirement" from ministry, to say "you gave me the encouragement it took to start down another path in life." I usually had no idea of that at the time. Why would s/he pay any attention to my unrequested advice, I was more likely thinking at the time. And just as likely, it wasn't until later, occasionally much later, that it dawned on that person, too, what had set the wheels of change turning, what had been said that planted a seed.

Want to change the world? Make somebody's day. Today.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Aphorisms

Probably the best thing most people can ever do to make a difference in life is be courteous.

Thought for today

Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections.

— Sent by Judy Rose

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