Troy's Take: Goodness Is There If You Look For It
By: Troy Clarkson, December 2, 2013
Maybe the story is true. Maybe it’s not. It doesn’t matter, really. The lesson is an important and relevant one during this season of giving and gratitude.
A viral article darting through social media recently tells the moving and instructive tale of a large congregation gathered in their house of worship, anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new pastor. Seated at the back of the church is an unkempt, haggard homeless man, asking for help from the parishioners in the form of alms, comfort, and simple kindness. The man, rather than being embraced by the 10,000 worshipers, was scorned and ignored.
When the time came for the new pastor to be introduced, the homeless man strode to the front of the congregation and introduced himself as Pastor Jeremiah Steepek. He then provided a potent and powerful lesson to those who may have forgotten some of the basic concepts of gratitude, charity, and compassion.
This story moved me, partially because I read it soon after reading the lament and disillusionment offered by a local who is known for his positive contributions to our community. My friend and former political rival Jude Wilber posed an intriguing question and planted a seed of reflection in an e-mail to a variety of Falmouth thinkers and doers by asking, “Do you see anything Good happening in this nation in the next five years? I would have to say that some people remaining optimistic about ‘communities’ does not qualify as something good actually HAPPENING.”
As a leader in our community and someone who has offered positive contributions to our environs for a generation, Jude’s concerns gave me pause and caused me to give some significant reflection on the concept of good things happening in our midst.
Well, Jude, I’ve given this quite a bit of thought. Actually, I believe the converse of your assertion is actually true. Not only is the fact that people remain optimistic about their community something good, this optimism and its resulting good works, deeds, and events is the necessary foundation of our collective future. You see, it is only by highlighting the everyday, seemingly mundane goodness in our lives and in our community that we collectively impact a more positive future.
Sure, I lament here and there on the tone of our local discourse and the sometimes head-scratching decisions and debates that unfold in Town Hall Square, but I see things within our borders every day that prove to me that good is indeed actually happening.
Examples of Good Abound in Falmouth
Take the story of Morse Pond School student Jacob Mello. While running in the school’s annual Turkey Trot race, and leading his peers in first place, Jacob spotted a classmate in trouble, having difficulty breathing. Jacob relinquished his likely first-place finish, and walked with his friend to the finish line, clearly wise beyond his years and mindful that helping another is far more important than individual accolades and victory. Wow. What a wonderful lesson and powerful display of goodness.
But Jude, that’s not all. How about our freshman Clipper football team? Secured by three touchdowns by unshakable running back Mike LaFrange, our stars of tomorrow recently handed arch-rival Barnstable a stinging 42-14 thumping, capping off a flawless 12-0 season. This team, also boosted by the reliable and stellar play of quarterback Nick Couhig, center Jack Karson and versatile back Sam Koss, has made a declaration that Falmouth football has a bright future. We owe them a nod for providing some much needed community spirit.
Yes, Jude, goodness is plentiful if you seek it. Another member of a local family of gifted and talented artists has just joined our citizenry. Chelsea Maffei, daughter of local artistic legend Lance Shinkle, carver and creator of the incomparable Carousel of Light, and her husband, Chris, just welcomed daughter, Olivia Pearl, to our seaside hamlet, making a third generation of enthusiastic supporters of Lance’s dream and gift to Falmouth. Both Chelsea and Chris serve on the nonprofit board that is working to preserve a home in Falmouth for the carousel. The simple joy of a new life brought to two wonderful people who take time out of their busy lives to work for the betterment of us all is certainly worth noting for its inherent goodness.
And Jude, what discussion of goodness this time of year could occur without mentioning the magic that occurred yesterday at the Portuguese-American club? In this annual display of unity and charity, hundreds of Falmouth residents, and a nearly equal number of spirited and devoted volunteers provided a Thanksgiving meal and heaping helping of love, kindness and neighborliness. The inimitable teams of Johnny and Debbie Netto, supported by benevolent brothers Dave and Gary Mutti, are most certainly something good here in Falmouth.
These are just a few examples of good happening in our community—in our Falmouth. Many, surely dozens, perhaps hundreds of similar stories occur each day.
So Jude, I guess that means that to find goodness in our community, we have to take the time to look for it. Goodness begets goodness. Good deeds beget additional good deeds. So, my friend, I pledge to spend some time this holiday season looking for and doing some good. Let’s all do the same.
Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.