God has Entrusted Us to Each Other’s Care

Human beings have a tendency to consider information only when it comes from a favored source. I can remember how people snickered with cynicism when two politicians, from different parties, talked about:
* The continuing need for “a thousand points of light” in this world (via volunteer organizations).
* The fact that “it takes a village” to raise a child.
Both of those people were speaking the truth.

Where would our society be without the countless hours of volunteer service provided by people who care? The answer is that millions of people would suffer even greater than they already do. My heart swells every time I see people stepping up to address societal needs rather than complaining and trying to place blame for the way things are.

When I was a young man, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the telephone. It was an urgent call for help: “Meet at the city sheds.” The mountains had massive snowpack, and the record runoff was causing streams to overflow their banks. I worked all night long with hundreds of volunteers to fill, distribute, and place sand bags in an effort to save people’s homes. As I worked through the night, I felt comfort in knowing that—in our town—we had each other’s backs. I knew that when a need arose, we would all “answer the call.”

A few years later, a local church congregation decided it would be a good idea to create a community food bank to help people in need. I watched with amazement as the citizens in our town—those from every religious affiliation as well as those with no religious affiliation—embraced this worthy goal. It started with an annual food drive. Citizens would donate bags of non-perishable foods and other household necessities. One year, I volunteered to help organize the donations at that church’s receiving area. During my shift, I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. I saw a line of pickup trucks in the parking lot—literally filled with donations. My eyes filled with tears as I thought about the love and kindness being displayed by those in our community. Today, that church has a warehouse on their property, and donations of all kinds flow in daily. Isn’t it amazing to see how a simple idea can evolve into something so wonderful!

“It takes a village.” One afternoon when I was in my 30s, I was writing the names of people who had influenced my life in important ways in my journal. As I wrote down each name, I recalled the special part that person had played in shaping the person I had become. When I finished, I read down my long list. As I did so I wept, because I realized that I would never have become the man that I was without the unique contributions of each of the people on my list. I also realized that no person in their right mind could ever claim to be “self-made.”

I believe we are all on this planet to help each other become our best, unique selves and to enjoy this wonderful adventure called life!