Greatness

The Truly Great Walk Among Us

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”   -Bob Marley

While visiting my sister a few months back, as she was recuperating from her latest operation to combat the ravages of a lifetime struggle with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), she shared the following experience with me.

She told me that she had been lonely lying in bed day after day, week after week, with little social interaction except with her husband. Then she told me about a visitor she had a couple of days before our conversation. A woman we both know (I’ll call her “Mary” to preserve her privacy) had come to visit her unannounced. I saw her face become more animated as she related how Mary had shown up with a sack full of groceries saying, “I know how hard it must be for you guys to get out and shop while dealing with your current situation, so I thought I’d bring you a few things you might need.”

My sister continued, “She sat down, spent some time with me, and we had a wonderful conversation. While we talked, she rubbed my cold feet.”

I don’t remember much of what my sister said to me after that statement, because I got lost in my own thoughts. We ended our conversation and I returned to my car, where I sat and wept… “She rubbed my cold feet” played over and over in my mind. What kind of person does that? I quietly asked myself. People like Mary, I responded.

Let me tell you a little about Mary—and her husband (I’ll call him Mike to preserve his privacy). They both own their own businesses serving our community in different ways. I know Mary better than Mike, because I have occasion to use her services. They are both incredible people—in many ways.

Mike has helped people in their neighborhood with house payments, medical bills, and other expenses when they were out of work, or simply “down on their luck.”

Mary and Mike have taken people into their home who needed help. And I know of at least one occasion where this did not go well for their family…

Mary once visited a woman with a highly contagious disease to help her with her hair when no one else would get near her. When Mary related this story to me, she explained her reasoning for helping that woman, “I felt strongly that somebody should help her. Then I remembered that ‘I am somebody.’”

Mary and Mike visit and serve inmates in the local jail.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

At this time of year, millions of people—including Mary and Mike—celebrate the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The story of his life is told in the New Testament in the Bible. I’d like to review a few things we know about Jesus, and some of what he taught.

Matthew 25:35 “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:”

That is what Mary and Mike do.

Matthew 25:36 “Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

That is what Mary and Mike do.

In Acts 10:38, it says that Jesus went about doing good.

That is what Mary and Mike do.

In John 13:34,25 we read: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Many millions celebrate the life of Jesus of Nazareth, while some, like Mary and Mike, live his teachings—they are truly his disciples. Mary once confided in me that she begins each day by asking God who needs her service that day. She then responds to whatever she feels prompted to do.

Some time ago, I was viewing a woman’s account of her near-death experience (NDE) on the Internet. She talked about having a “life review.” During that life review, she was astounded to discover that the most significant thing she had accomplished up that point in her life was approaching a lonely person on a park bench and engaging them in friendly conversation. She returned with the knowledge that love and kindness are the most important things in life.

It was Coretta Scott King who wisely observed, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

During my years on this planet, I have come to believe that true greatness is not achieved through the acquisition of power, position, or paychecks. Greatness of the highest order comes through kind and compassionate service to others.

I sincerely believe that love and kindness are the foundational principles upon which all of the answers to our society’s challenges can be built.

Inspired by Mary and Mike, and their kind and compassionate service to their fellow beings, I am making a personal commitment to seek out more opportunities to serve those around me during the coming year. I hope that many of you will join me in making a like commitment. By doing so, I’m confident that we will make our world a little bit better place to live.

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness.”   -Anne Frank

-Mark Swain

4 thoughts on “The Truly Great Walk Among Us

  1. A beautiful article. Thanks for sharing such a personal story and reminding us it is the small moments of when we reach out to others in that matter most.

    1. I’m happy that you enjoyed the article Margaret. I try to remember every day that the truly great really do walk among us.

  2. Well said… I also try to do this everyday, of my life. Love God with all your heart and all your soul and love one another as you love your self. So if you do this everyday of your life, what need do you have for any other commandments?

    1. Ernest, regardless of a person’s religious/spiritual beliefs, love and kindness are the foundation for building a better world. I think that is why Jesus said love was everything. You are right in your assessment. If we truly love our creator, ourselves, and each other, there would be no need for other “commandments.”

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