I got an email a few days ago that had me walking on air. It was from the husband of the woman I wrote about last week.
In case you missed that column, it was about a woman I saw in church the previous Sunday. She was at Mass with her four young sons, and I was impressed by them all – the boys, who were very well-dressed and well-behaved, and the mom, who was obviously a woman of strong family values, and who was instilling those values in her sons.
The husband – who wasn’t with the family at Mass that day because he had Army Reserve drill that weekend – wrote to tell me that a friend of theirs recognized them as the family I was writing about, and sent them a copy of the column. They live in a different town and don’t usually see the Villager, so he was asking if I knew where he could get some copies of the newspaper.
Although I often hear from readers in response to columns I’ve written, this was different, and it warmed my heart in a way few others ever have.
I should probably mention that most of the time I hear from people, they are very complimentary. In fact, I can recall only two negative responses to columns I’ve written. One was when someone accused me of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, after I wrote a column about Feed My Starving Children and pondered about what it would take to end world hunger. The other was from someone who apparently took offense at my tongue-in-cheek column suggesting that we could use a “Department of Nice” in our federal government.
Still, whenever I write about an experience or observation involving people I don’t know personally, and haven’t spoken to or interacted with directly, a little voice in my head always wonders about how these people would feel and react if they happened to read the column and recognize themselves. Even though virtually everything I write is upbeat and positive, I always try to take into consideration things that people might consider an invasion of privacy, or a comment that could be misinterpreted or misunderstood in a negative way. That’s the main reason it was so gratifying to hear from the husband of the woman in church, letting me know that they saw and appreciated what I wrote about them.
What occurs to me now, though, is what a difference it would make in the world if everyone focused more on the positive, rather than the negative, in everything and everyone around them, and took into consideration the effect their words and actions had on other people. It reminds me of the old saying about not judging anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And about treating others the way we want to be treated. That goes as much for what we say as it does for what we do.
So I’ll plan to continue looking for and writing about all the good I see in the world around me. And the more I look for it, the more I always seem to find.
The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on September 22, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016
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