Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hope -- An Unreported Human Interest Story

Whenever I think about the state of the American people as I observe my surroundings and absorb daily media reports, I am reminded of the Old Testament story of God telling the prophet Jeremiah that He would hold back His wrath if Jeremiah could find “even one righteous person” in the ancient city of Jerusalem. Between my own personal experiences in dealing with downright dishonest, unscrupulous individuals and what I see in America, I can’t help but think of the myriad of issues and policies that affect Americans negatively. And when I think about the seemingly endless number of individuals, policymakers and organizations—both in the governmental and private sectors—who aren’t able (or willing) to think beyond the walls ideology in order to work toward substantive (and positive) change, I wonder could I myself find one good (or even worthy) person in America to give me pause to believe that there is simply no hope for America. Then, over the last 2 weeks, a couple of news items were brought to my attention which made me believe that there is hope for the people of America to take their individual (and collective) destinies into their own hands and effect positive change for the nation. The first one was more of a human interest story which reminded me how for some, the human spirit can rise above circumstances in order radiate an unlimited capacity for positive thinking…and even a capacity to thrive despite those circumstances. The focus is on Blair Griffith, the current Ms. Colorado who through a series of unfortunate circumstances found both herself and her mother evicted from their home last November—a month after winning the coveted crown—and have been homeless since (and still are as of this writing). To make matter worse for the reigning state beauty champion, the Saks Fifth Avenue store where she works is closing this month. During one recent interview, the young woman joked, saying how "It seems to happen once a month. Something new is being thrown at me." That type of gallows humor as it were seems to be part and parcel of this remarkable young lady’s remarkable optimism. Despite her current trials, she still finds the time to spend her days making appearances at schools and children’s hospitals, where she openly talks about being homeless to the younger audiences. She plans to enter the Miss USA Pageant in June of this year, where she is hoping to parlay her plight into a crusade to bring a face to the issue of the homelessness in America. The second story involves how an act of kindness can overcome both long-held symbols of hatred and acts of responsive brutality. Last week, and African-American reporter found himself in the middle of a story, partially of his own making. Shomari Stone, a news reporter for a Seattle-based television station was in a local park filming a report when he and his cameraman noticed a fight breaking out several feet away from their location. Ignoring his training to be objective to events, he rushed in to break up the fight between an imposing black male dressed in a hat and coat, who was beating away on an equally imposing white man with a shaved head and covered in tattoos. “I didn't want to jump in, but "when you see [the] suspect just pounding the victim while he's laying on the concrete, instinct just snapped in" Stone said of his decision. As Stone struggled to separate the two combatants, he was aided by one of the several bystanders who stood watching the events unfold. After the fight was broken up and police were called, it was discovered that the tattoos the white male was covered with were Nazi-related, and that he seemed to be a racist skinhead. Despite Stone’s skin color, the man thanked Stone, who it was reported responded by telling the victim, "Remember to judge a man by his character, not the color of his skin."
Both of these examples display the idea that the human capacity for hope and compassion for our fellow man is well within our individual as well as collective grasps. And that we could, if we are willing to exercise the will, work together and make practical and substantive policies which could benefit all Americans—and not just a selective group—if we are able to overcome the imagined barriers, namely prejudicial personal beliefs, which often get in the way of doing what’s needed and what’s right. ( or


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