A year or so ago, I told a close friend who is in his 60s and a bit set in his ways, about my ‘extracurricular activities’. I told him for two reasons. First, he was beginning to suspect something, and second, I knew he was a fatalist about most things, and I wanted to see if I could perhaps temper than with a little bit of hope and faith in humanity.
You see, he had been telling me that “one person can’t make any difference”, that we’re all just subject to the whims of life, and it’s best to just be prepared to roll with the inevitable punches. I wanted to start a process going that would start to change all that, and it began with telling him what I really do with my time.
As expected, he laughed and told me to “have fun” but that ultimately I’d see his point.
Fast-forward two years. I’ve been regaling him with stories on almost every visit, about how we put out fires, rescue people from floods, stop and render aid, help the homeless and other groups, etc. I’ve told him about co-ordinated efforts across the country to save lives and get peple out of bad situations. I’d seen some changes in his attitude, but something that happened last week made me feel like I’d actually finally accomplished something real…
My friend, who had always been a bit of a racist, quite the hoarder, and the ultimate fatalist, loaded up his barely-used Schwinn bicycle, and set out to find a new owner for it. He drove around a while, until he saw two young black boys standing on the side of the road talking. One boy was straddling a bicycle, the other wasn’t.
My friend stopped, rolled down the window and asked if the 2nd boy had a bike. When he said no, my friend said “you do now!”, got out, and gave the boy a “new” bicycle, extra tubes, and tools to care for it. After a few minutes of reassuring them that he wan’t trying to pass them a stolen bike, the boy accepted the gift and everyone said their happy goodbyes.
When my friend told me the story, he was on the verge of tears himself! Apparently knowing that he had made a real difference in this boy’s life, and had crossed racial barriers to do so, made him feel really good and for once, hopeful. I don’t believe my friend would have ever done such a thing a year ago, but I do believe I’ll be hearing more stories like this from him in the future.
We CAN change things, even if it’s just one mind at a time.