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Americares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis leads a health-focused relief and development organization that saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster.
I am thinking about Las Vegas today. And Puerto Rico. And Raqqa, the destroyed Syrian city that was once the “capital” of the Islamic State — and is no longer home to anybody. And an article I read about the swelling population of Mongolia’s newest slum, where a resident said “Nobody cares about us. We don’t exist.” And the anger and bitterness that fills our airwaves and seems to dominate the public square.
Frankly, it is depressing.
Then, with a sense of relief, I read the following quote from the late English author, Evelyn Beatrice Hall:
“There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be, because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring.”
The bad that happens in the world is big and bold and demands our attention. Goodness is modest and retiring and quietly passes by. But it is always there. We are inundated with images from the Las Vegas shooting and we will hear in great detail about the man accused of this largest mass shooting in modern American history. Below the top headlines, though, stories of quiet heroes are emerging, women and men who rescued strangers and saved people they did not know.
From Puerto Rico, the noisy headlines over the weekend were dominated by an argument between a president and a mayor over who is to blame for a seemingly slow federal response to the catastrophe there. Meanwhile Puerto Rican neighbors performing more acts of generosity and kindness than can be counted quietly continued to work together to reclaim their lives and their island. Relief workers, the military and volunteers rose up to fill gaps. An Americares airlift of vital medicines and supplies arrived in San Juan. Lacking a forklift, our team unloaded the three tons of cargo by hand in the Puerto Rican heat and humidity so it could reach people in need as fast as possible. Modest, retiring goodness.
There is no sense in ignoring the bad. We have to confront it, turn it back and learn from it. Yet there is every reason to seek out and trumpet goodness. It holds the key lessons we need to believe in, and work toward, a hopeful future for our communities, countries and world.
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