The Amend Corner

It’s not all bad news

Posted 9/17/19

A few months ago, I reached the ripe old age of three score and 15 years.

One of the benefits of reaching such an advanced age is that I have quite a lot of free time. I have no job — …

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The Amend Corner

It’s not all bad news


A few months ago, I reached the ripe old age of three score and 15 years.

One of the benefits of reaching such an advanced age is that I have quite a lot of free time. I have no job — unless you count the time I spend writing this column — and I don’t have many other obligations, either. Furthermore, my creaky old body prevents me from doing many of the things I used to enjoy.

Consequently, I have to figure out how to use all of that free time constructively. Or, to put it another way, I have to find ways to exercise my brain, because, otherwise, it might decide to take walk and leave me staring at the ceiling all day.

Fortunately, there are myriad ways of making my mind work. Just reading a book — especially if the book challenges an opinion you have defended for years — is probably the best way. Sometimes I simply recall events in my past life and ponder how those events changed me, if at all. I’ve also purchased courses from an online company, and listened to lectures on a variety of subjects, ranging from the book of Genesis to the lives of great women who lived before the year 1400.

In addition, I’m a news junkie. I spend part of every day skimming headlines from newspapers and online news organizations, and if I see something important or interesting, I read further. The internet provides an unending stream of such headlines and the accompanying stories.

The problem with this pursuit of news is that the news is often unsettling. Mass shootings, trade wars, hurricanes and tornadoes are only a few of the bad things that have happened in recent weeks — and that’s just a small sample of the terrible events that happen every day.

Fortunately, there is often news that makes me feel good, and last week I happened upon three such news items. All of them involve young people.

The first one isn’t good news. It’s about a 4-year-old boy who suffers from leukemia. But the picture accompanying the story portrayed a tender moment between the boy and his sister, who is a year older. The boy’s chemotherapy has caused him to vomit, and he interrupted the game the two siblings were playing to head for the bathroom. His sister followed him, and as he stood over the toilet, she stood beside him and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. Watching someone vomit is not pleasant, and I thought it was remarkable that a 5-year-old would stand by and watch. That this girl did provided a wonderful picture of sibling love, and she may end up as a doctor or a nurse someday.

The second item was a video, taken by a person who was walking with a 2-year-old boy. The boy’s best friend was coming from the other direction and the two boys spotted each other at the same time. Both broke into a bow-legged run common to 2-year-olds and with shouts of pure joy they met and wrapped their arms around each other. A spectator might have thought they hadn’t seen other in weeks, but in reality, it had only been a day or two since they had played together. It was a joyful display of friendship, and it makes no difference to them that one is white, the other African-American.

As an ex-high school teacher, I liked this last item best. It was about a freshman in a Tennessee high school who, for reasons the story didn’t make clear, had to wear the same clothes to school every day. As a result, he was the object of ridicule and bullying from the other students. But two members of the football team took notice of the poor boy’s plight and decided to do something about it. They collected some of their own clothes, including a pair of gym shoes, brought them to school and gave them to the freshman boy in front of his locker. They also let him know that they would be watching out for him. As the boy told a news reporter, the two athletes had turned what was becoming the worst year of his life into a good year.

But the football players’ kindness likely did more than they realize. A miserable freshman year is often the first step on the road to dropping out of school before graduation. By their actions, they may well have guaranteed that young man will finish high school. 

There’s one more thing that’s notable about this incident. The freshman is white; his benefactors, the two football players, are African-American. 

That’s the kind of news I like to see.

The Amend Corner