I belong to Toastmasters, a great organization, and I remember an international speech a few years ago where the speaker stood on stage holding a white piece of paper. In the middle of the paper was a red mark. The first thing you saw was the red. It stood out. You couldn’t miss it.
And then he said that we hadn’t even noticed the 95% of the paper that was white. I’ve always remembered that.
As I watch the news and read the paper, I’m often reminded of that speech. Murders, lies, cheating, fraud, car chases. Those all catch our attention and hold it, just like the red spot.
But for every murder in Los Angeles, close to where I live, there are millions of decent, hard-working, kind people who try to make life better for themselves and possibly others. The car chase catches our attention, but there are hundreds of thousands of people driving on the freeways every day, mostly staying in their lanes and going a reasonable speed, trying to be careful.
For every liar and every lie, there are people who hold the truth to be important. For every bully –– and there are so many of them, especially online –– there are more people who are kind to each other.
We read the horrible headlines, but we forget –– or we aren’t even aware –– of the people across the world who are trying to do good, trying to make the world a better place.
Activists working to minimize climate change, trying to achieve energy independence. Environmentalists saving animals, land, and whole species. There are people who care about women’s reproductive rights, who champion the poor and those badly treated in our society. There are people who work for justice in our court systems.
The list of the quiet ones, the forgotten ones, stretch far beyond that red mark.
Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the news. Headline reports are so awful, so offensive, so frightening. It’s easy to become depressed and frustrated. But I try to look beyond that, to the large expanse of those trying to do good, every single day. In their small, quiet way, in families, in volunteering or charity, in kindness to neighbors –– they are the ones to pay attention to and be thankful for.