Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Making the World a Little Better

When Ann Curry was replaced on The Today Show by Savannah Guthrie, I had mixed feelings.  Curry seems to be one of the nicest people in broadcasting, which was her downfall.  She had such incredible empathy for the troubled people she would interview, that she put her heart and soul into feeling their pain and comforting them.  And that was the problem.  She seemed to approach every interview with the same intensity that eventually got to be a bit too much.

In her time on The Today Show she did amazing things, traveled all over the world, even to the South Pole, where no reporter had ever been before.  She visited war zones and did much good reporting, and good work there.   She wore her heart on her sleeve and it showed.

I know that it was not a happy parting and I'm sure she was very bitter about being let go as co-anchor of The Today Show, but she soldiered on and is now doing special reports.
The Newtown tragedy was ready-made for Curry's skills.  I don't recall seeing any of her reports, but her time there has started a movement that is spreading world-wide.  She explains how it all happened.
I remembered a moment on the edge of Darfur, when I came upon a woman who was elderly and in the hospital, recovering from burns after an attack by Janjaweed militias. She was surrounded in the hospital, by younger women carrying babies, and I asked her to tell the story of how she had suffered these terrible burns all over her body. I learned that she had tried to rescue her invalid husband when her village was attacked and her house was set on fire. She tried to carry her husband out of her house and stayed so long that the thatched roof of her house came down, the hot embers giving her 3rd degree burns.  But she was unable to save her husband. Her husband died.

I remember walking out of that hospital, and the producer saw the look on my face. He said, “Are you okay?” And I said, “No.” And without even thinking, I remember going to our team van and pulling out a Polaroid camera I had brought on that trip. And then I went to all of these women with their children who were in the  courtyard of the hospital, knowing that they had never owned a photograph – ever – of their child. I went around from woman to woman, and I took pictures of them, I took pictures of them with their child, or just of their child alone – without even thinking, just snapping pictures. The first time I did it, I remember giving a photograph to a woman, and she looked at this black square with this quizzed look on her face, and I said, “Just wait one minute! Just wait one minute,” holding up one finger. And then I watched her face melt as she watched her child’s face slowly appear on that Polaroid.

It made me feel better. So I went from mother to mother to mother until I ran out of film.
Remembering how it made her feel to take the pain she was experiencing and doing something good for someone else, and knowing how the whole country was going through a grief period, though far-removed from the site of the massacre.  She thought what if everyone in pain could pledge to do an act of kindness for someone in honor of each child who was killed.  Twenty acts of kindness, which eventually expanded to include the adults killed, including the shooter's mother.  Twenty-seven acts of kindness to offset the twenty-seven acts of unspeakable horror.

She went to Twitter and made the proposal.  The thing has exploded, not only in this country, but around the world as well.  Today I installed Twitter on my iPad and happened to catch wind of the project.  Twitter is filled with stories of people who are enthusiastic about ging out of their way to help other people in the name of the children and adults who were slaughtered in Connecticut.

Curry encouraged people to post what they have been doing, as an inspiration to others.  And what a range of tweets were posted.
  • put money in an expired parking meter for a car with handicapped plates & a veteran's hat in it
  • A friend found a $10 gift card in the shelf at the grocery store with a note that said if was a random act of kindness.
  • The Harvey Belvin Legacy of NJ will provide cupcakes for 3 kindergarten classes of Central NJ.
  • Filled in for a mom who couldn't take time off at a Kindergarten Christmas party.
  • Sent Christmas cards to thank the 1st responders in CT.
  • Oldest son bought kid w/no $ lunch & middle son made point to talk to troubled classmate yesterday.
  • A SF Bay Area resident said she paid $3,600 to send 32 children to school in Kenya.
  • An anonymous donor paid the lay-away bill for 43 customers at WalMart
  • bought new clothes, paid for eye exam and new contact lenses and paid storage fees for a man who lost everything.
  • making Christmas cookies and homemade cards and hand delivering them to our neighbors...
  • Sent an email with an attached Holiday card to all of my children's teachers telling them how much our family appreciates all the hard work they do.
  • Just paid the school fees for 26 children with AIDS in Mombasa, Kenya
  • Just gave $40 to a homeless guy who was standing barefoot on a corner. His shock and gratitude were humbling
  • Visited my old school and told my teachers how grateful I was to them.
  • I saw a pharmacist paying $100 out of his own pocket for medicine for a little girl whose father didn't have enough money.
  • I donated trees through the National Arbor Day Foundation in memory of the children.
  • we adopted 2 families for Christmas, 11 people in total.
  • Diapers & more delivered to our women's shelter, $26 to food bank, $26 to Boys Club for Christmas gifts.
  • Bought stuffed animals from Amazon--put in gift bags--sent to St. Jude's Children's Hospital
  • left dinner for two at Applebee's for town police officer on his car
  • picked up a friend's baby today to let her get some sleep after a rough night
  • been helping my neighbor with his computer
  • Paid for the car behind me in line at DD this a.m. Just a little something act in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.
The list goes on and on and on.  From big things like making certain children get schooling in a foreign country to little things like helping a neighbor with his computer.  Parents are using it as a teaching moment for their children.  Many are posting their acts of kindness on Twitter.  I only assume more are not posting on Twitter, but just doing things anonymously, and quietly.

I have made the pledge and have started my 26 acts.  I challenge people reading this entry to think about doing the same.  Especially at this time of year doing good things for others is a wonderful thing, doing good things for others to honor the little children who lost their lives at Sandy Hook gives it that "little extra something."

Go and do something nice for somebody.  I guarantee it will make you feel much better.

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