Sometimes we can get depressed and overwhelmed with the disgust and evil surrounding us crackling our soul’s atmosphere like tremors of an advancing earthquake. We fear what will happen next. Who will be victimized? Who will face unexpected terror? I thought of this while listening to the news of the shooting in Buffalo, which took ten lives and wounded three others while it deeply scarred survivors forever.
The war in Ukraine adds to our swelling anxiety over its worldwide effect including food and baby formula shortages. Wars in other parts of the world, not getting nearly enough coverage, are creating their share of the evil of disruption as well. We can and should debate the reasons for the surfacing of evil so we can work toward solutions that might help our faltering human race and establish an equilibrium of harmony in the world. But as we do that, let’s look for the efforts already underway that give us hope that there is goodness ‘out there,’ true goodness. So I decided to make myself more conscious of kindness around me; perhaps even make a mental list of acts of kindness I witness.
I thought of this as I sat among fellow board members at our university’s recent graduation ceremony in Cincinnati and watched a blind student walk across the stage to accept his diploma, a fellow student assisting him. The audience broke into thunderous applause. I was grateful for our donors who give willingly and generously to help us provide an education for all our students without even being aware of the help they gave this young man to succeed. At the same time, I thought of the goodness taking place across the road as two of our young sisters pronounced their vows for life in the total service of charity and the Gospel. (I watched their ceremony from a video later.) I am deeply grateful for their willingness to commit through our community when something drew them to explore the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, our foundress.
While my mind was open to catching moments of kindness and charity, I caught the televised story of two little girls from LaGrange, Kentucky who started a ‘Kindness Movement’ enlisting artists to paint murals on buildings in their city to celebrate kindness. They were doing this in memory of their sister who had lived with Downs Syndrome and often experienced unkindness in public. Their intent was to make LaGrange the Capital City of Kindness!
During the week I received my newsletter from NETWORK, a National Catholic Lobby for Social Justice, based in Washington, D.C. NETWORK is celebrating 50 years of advocating for justice based on Gospel teaching and the social teaching of the Church. In its 50 years this organization, founded by women religious (nuns), has become a powerful lobby with a “base of 100,000 religious and lay members and supporters in all 50 states with a staff of over 20 …religious, lay Catholics, and clergy from other traditions.” This is not an adversarial or partisan group; its goal is “to achieve a more just world order, through education and social activism.” You have to check out this amazing group of dedicated persons through www.networklobby.org or www.networklobbyadvocates.org. I am proud to have been associated with NETWORK for all its years of existence. It has achieved major successes on behalf of the marginalized in our country and I am grateful for this.
My mental list of ‘positives’ kept growing this week proving to me that I often forget the simple goodness countless people are doing while the evil of life keeps trying to surface.
We are often reminded by psychologists that thinking positively is a purposeful effort to make ourselves happier and more amenable to those around us. The operative word here is ‘purposeful.’ We have to consciously make the effort to open our minds so that we will see goodness and then let it percolate all the way to the heart where it will be appreciated and may even be treasured. Try to avoid making a critical remark that comes swiftly to mind and instead see if something good is hidden in what you have heard or seen. Someone told me recently that her admiration for another person’s goodness is rooted in that person’s responses when someone criticizes another. “She says, how can we help her?” Meaning the one being criticized. She doesn’t enter into the fog of critical gossip. She doesn’t add to the criticism. She sees the criticism as accurate but rather than build on it, she asks how she can help the person being criticized.
So, let’s see how much goodness we can witness this week. Whenever you hear of something wrong that you cannot handle, stop to pray for the grace to understand and to be gentle, especially with yourself. Whenever you hear or learn of something wrong that you can address, ask for the grace and inspiration to do something positive for a response.
Take to your prayer the examples of goodness you hear and ask God’s blessings on the people who effect this goodness on behalf of others. Be part of the healing, not the division.
To all of you: my faithful readers and anonymous angels, may you find greater joy from the sunlight others provide in your life.
Quotes in today’s blog are taken from The NETWORK Connection Newsletter, Second Quarter, 2022.
Good Morning Mary Ann, I loved your post especially today in my life. I had just learned that our former “young” (40’s) Yale chaplain had had brain surgery and a stroke afterwards. She had spent a year at Taize. Just before reading your column, I raced to write her suggesting a visit at the rehab facility and my committed friendship.
Bill and many other friends need acts of kindness and concern. We can’t change their circumstances, but we can make the pain a bit more bearable. I loved your column and will read it over many times this week.
I regret we didn’t have more time together on my visit, but my love and gratitude fly through cyber-space to you.
Sandra Y. Rueb
I just told a friend yesterday that I have lived long enough to witness the pain many people my age and younger are going through, not to mention the deaths. I am constantly saying prayers of gratitude that I am still reasonably healthy and praying for my many acquaintances who are not. I once took my youngest sister to Cincinnati to show her the infirmary and cemetery so she would see where I most likely will end up. I told her, “You will bury all of us.” Wow! Was I wrong. As you know, we just buried her two months ago. You are so good, Sandra. God has laced your life with care and love. Here’s a cyber hug!!! Mary Ann
I ” am grateful to learn the response of “How can we help her?” to counter criticism and gossip.
Thank you Diane. I was impressed with this comment as well. It has helped me.
Hope you are well…S. MAF
Blessings be on to Mary Ann
And blessings to you Mc-Deng
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