Monday, August 15, 2011

Does Howard County live up to the "Choose Civility" Bumper Stickers?

Howard County is the type of place that has thousands of “Choose Civility” magnetic car stickers that have been given out at the local libraries.  This has started counter bumper stickers that you can order on Zazzle "Choose Insanity" and "Embrace Hostility."  Imitation is the highest form of flattery as the saying goes.

The whole idea of “random acts of kindness” and the philosophy of “paying it forward” may seem idealistic but it isn’t that idealism better than the atmosphere coming from many of our supposed leaders today?  The best example of this was something that happened to me as I was at the tollgate before going over the Bay Bridge a few years ago.  I got to the attendant and was told the person ahead of me paid my toll for me.  That person was someone I didn’t know but was so inspired by the act that I paid the toll for the person behind me and wondered how long the “pay it forward” or more accurately the “pay it backward” would go.  Probably not too long.  The paying of a $2.50 toll is not a lot of money but the ripple effect that small acts can be large many times. The following story from the British Mail Online shows this:

Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise $300 by her ninth birthday to help bring clean water to people in poor countries. Now donors the world over are making sure her wish is realized after hearing of her death. Rachel was about $80 short of her goal when she turned nine in June, and then a horrific highway traffic accident took her life away last week.

Wonderful dream: Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise $300 by her ninth birthday to bring clean water to poor countries, but her life was horrifically cut short
But news of the Bellevue, Washington, girl’s pluck and selflessness emerged after the tragedy. It is inspiring thousands of people - most of them strangers - to push her dream along. By Tuesday afternoon, her web page that was set up to take contributions for charity:water, a non-profit organization that brings clean drinking water to people in developing nations, had attracted more than $200,000 in pledges, reports.

Members of the charity Rachel supported were in the Central African Republic touring the charity’s water projects last week when they learned of her death

'What could have been simply a senseless ending to such a beautiful beginning of your story has turned into something so much more. I hope that if at all possible the obvious compassion so many others have shown in taking up your empathetic cause brings some peace to you and your family,' wrote one anonymous donor who pledged $31. Rachel’s mother, Samantha Paul, posted a message Monday on the website: 'I am in awe of the overwhelming love to take my daughter’s dream and make it a reality. In the face of unexplainable pain you have provided undeniable hope. Thank you for your generosity! I know Rachel is smiling!'

Rachel’s family attends EastLake Community Church, a non-denominational church of about 4,000 members in Bothell, a suburb northeast of Seattle. The church held a benefit concert in September that helped raise more than $300,000 for charity:water to bring clean water to the Bayaka tribe in the Central African Republic. By Tuesday afternoon, her web page that was set up to take contributions for charity:water had attracted more than $200,000 in pledges Scott Harrison, founder of charity:water, said he and the lead pastor of EastLake Community Church, Ryan Meeks, were in the Central African Republic touring the charity’s water projects last week when they learned that Rachel had been seriously injured in an accident. Rachel was in a car with her mother and younger sister on Interstate 90 when a semi-trailer jack-knifed into a logging truck, causing a chain-reaction crash involving more than a dozen vehicles.The semi rear-ended the car carrying Rachel, the only person critically injured. She was taken off life support over the weekend.

Rachel had learned about charity:water’s work through EastLake Church, and on her my webpage she explained why she wanted to raise $300.
'On June 12th 2011, I'm turning nine. I found out that millions of people don't live to see their fifth birthday.  'Why? Because they didn't have access to clean, safe water so I'm celebrating my birthday like never before. 'I'm asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday. Every penny of the money raised will go directly to fund freshwater projects in developing nations.' Although she fell $80 short of her birthday goal, that was just the beginning. Donations started flowing in when community members publicized her wishes after the accident, and really took off after her story appeared on KING 5 TV, in The Seattle Times and other local media outlets. Rachel’s story also spread on social media, getting a boost from tweets by actress Alyssa Milano and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. 'There were 3,600 different donations as of today. Her little dream of helping 15 people has turned into almost 10,000 people and counting,” Harrison told 'I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets 1,000 times her wish.'

It would be a nicer world if we would try to do one random act of kindness each day and “pay it forward.”  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an awesome kid!

Next time you go out to eat, think about paying for another party's meal. It's a gift I've received a few times and recently gave back to a couple with a screaming baby. Or, if you are so moved, write a kind note to another table of diners. Random acts of kindness by strangers truly have impact.