Friday, April 19, 2013

Common good

This week has reminded me of the hurt in our world. There’s a lot of it.

I still believe – I have to believe – that there is more good than bad in our world. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder.

Openlands, where I work, believes there is value in the common species in nature. While the rare is beautiful and important, we do not solely focus on it, which runs counter to conservation thinking. We want to connect people with nature, and nature means many different things to many different people. We recently started a program for 2nd to 5th graders that helps them identify the everyday birds in their backyard. Through the program, it’s our hopes that the schoolchildren gain an appreciation for nature, even through a humble connection to a sparrow, and someday will become conservation stewards themselves. “Common” birds are an important tool to our process.

Processing all of the news of this week, I slipped into Jossie’s room Wednesday night and picked up my sleeping toddler. I brought her back to my bed, and I pulled her close.

This act was not a protective one. It was for me; I needed to feel her good, innocent truth. The sense that I am raising Jossie and Jack in a world where Jeremy and I can keep them safe is not a given.  How can I protect this cherub who looks at me with trust as she warbles, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine”? How do I trust my prayerful requests at night to keep my family safe?

Rare are the heroes of this week – the people who ran into harm’s way to help others.  Common are the good people in our lives every day. For me this morning, it’s the drugstore manager who wears a tie and helps his customers. It’s the engineer in my office building who tries to fix a stuck door. It’s me; at least I hope it is.

Perhaps it’s time to think about how common can do rare things. I feel very blessed in my life to have all I have – a home, food, my faith, and healthy family and friends. I treat people with respect and ask for the same in return. There has to be a place for me to act.  I know in my heart that I need to act by speaking out more for the benefit of children and giving them all they deserve – confidence, a sense of value, and, above all, safety.

That is a tall order for the common. But we must start somewhere.