Be the change you want to see in this world

August 13, 2013|Bill Kohler

Man, do we still have some work to do.

It seems that in the 2010 decade, every time humankind takes a step forward, someone does something — calculated or spontaneous — that drags the whole lot of us back a few steps.

For every Nobel-worthy effort, there’s a pro football player uttering a hateful racial slur at a country music concert.

For every missionary effort to an orphanage in Uganda or to the poorest part of our country, there’s a man abducting women and trapping them in his house for a decade.

For every goodwill gesture shared on a field of competition, there is a fan throwing a banana at a black athlete, or a player cheating to get an edge or to get that big contract that will set him up the rest of his life.


For every good deed done at a church or synagogue, something bad happens one street over.

Yeah, I get it. You get it. It’s life.

Yeah, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, does it? It doesn’t mean we have to sit here and take it, either.

Here’s what we’re going to do about it, and that includes me, you, your neighbor and any of the kinfolk you can round up by the end of the day: We’re going to pay it forward.

We’re going to hold the door all the time — even when we have our hands full of a kid, a diaper bag, a bag of groceries and our cellphone.

We’re going to say “please,” “thank you” and “may I be excused?”

We’re gonna say nice things to our friends and loved ones unless they ask for brutal honesty.

We’re going to help a stranger who is lost, or whose car is broken down.

That stranger is then going to send a thank you to that person or call The Herald-Mail’s Mail Call if the good Samaritan slips away without leaving a name.

We’re going to respond promptly to emails for business and pleasure.

We’re going to think about other’s feelings before we say stupid, hurtful stuff.

We’re going to walk away before we hurt with words or our fists.

We MUST seek out help if we are having trouble coping (because, trust me, help is out there — from addictions to self-preservation — and it is only a phone book, a click or a Google search away).

We must learn that not everything is black and white, that not everything is Obama’s fault, and not every trouble in this country was caused by Bush and his oil buddies.

We’re going to stay away from chat-room hatred. There are other places for constructive discussion.

We’re going to help a nonprofit organization, we’re going to volunteer (call or email me if you need some directions), and we’re going to donate some money or items to Head Start or a local Christian child care center.

(A friend/co-worker recently donated a decent chunk of change to an orphanage in Haiti in her father’s name for his birthday. That’s a grand idea.)

We’re going to stop hurting, and we’re going to start helping. We’re going to get up out of that chair, quit belly-aching and go do something positive.

Here’s my first gesture to get the ball rolling: A public thank you to committee President Carol Christophel and her cast of hundreds who put together another amazing Old Home Week in Greencastle, Pa., last week.

I never quite understood the appeal of the event until attending a few events when I was an adult.

Wholesome, fun events like Old Home Week and county fairs are what make living in this area splendid and unique.

And you know what? I bet Carol won’t be sitting around and belly-aching now that she’s done. She’s going to focus her efforts on her next opportunity to make positive change for herself, others and the community. You can, too.

It’s a start. Who’s with me?

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at 301-791-7281 or by email at

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