There were three "feel-good" stories I saw this week that I wanted to share. It's easy to focus on the depressing, upsetting, disturbing news, and there's definitely plenty of that going around. But there is also plenty of good in the world, too.
A simple act of service:
Isaac Theil, the man on the right, allowed his shoulder to be a pillow for a stranger on the New York subway for almost an hour. After the picture had gone viral, he said this in an interview with the Jewish magazine Tablet: “Maybe the photo wouldn't have become so popular if people weren't seeing a Jewish man with a yarmulke and a black man in a hood, and because they might not necessarily correlate the two, but there is only one reason that I didn't move, and let him continue sleeping, and that has nothing to do with race. He was simply a human being who was exhausted, and I knew it and happened to be there and have a big shoulder to offer him...I would love for people to use this as a lesson to just be good to each other.”
The Olivet Middle School football team in Olivet, Michigan, did something extraordinary. Without informing their coaches, these twelve- to fourteen-year-old boys at the top of the middle-school "pecking order" planned a special play to include Keith Orr, a special needs student on the team. Rather than scoring a touchdown himself, player Sheridan Henrick took a knee on the one-yard line. On the next play, the ball was handed to Keith and the team surrounded him, protecting him from the other team and ensuring that Keith would be the one to score the touchdown.
One of his teammates explained: "We really wanted to prove that he was part of our team, and he meant a lot to us." The last minute or so of the new report focuses on how these boys were affected by their choice to include and embrace Keith, and it is heart-warming. I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that it changed lives.
This story is old news, since it happened in 1996, but I just became aware of it recently, so it's new to me.
In her senior year of high school Keshia Thomas gathered with others to protest a Ku Klux Klan rally in her home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tensions were high and, at one point, someone in the crowd identified a white man wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt as a KKK supporter. He tried to run, but a group surrounded him, knocking him to the ground, kicking and hitting him.
Keshia Thomas didn't know this man, didn't know whether he really was a KKK supporter or not, but she knew what the mob was doing was wrong, so she stepped in. She covered his body with hers, blocking blows and shielding him. Why did she put herself at risk? "I knew what it was like to be hurt," she says. "The many times that that happened, I wish someone would have stood up for me." Today, more than 15 years later, she says, "The biggest thing you can do is just be kind to another human being. It can come down to eye contact, or a smile. It doesn't have to be a huge monumental act."
It's a little early to be hauling out the Christmas posts, but I couldn't resist this one, and it just might take me all the way to Christmas to perfect them anyway.
Anthony Herrara has dozens of templates you can choose from including Darth Vader, the Death Star, TIE fighters, and Chewbacca. My favorites are Yoda and Han Solo in Carbonite (see below). I can't believe the detail on these!