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Column

Choosing to emphasize the positive things we see around us

When I scroll through the newsfeed on my Facebook page, I see so much negativity. I see politics and people throwing accusations and allegations. I see people hating and swearing and pointing fingers. Some days, it seems to be all I see.

But then I look further. I look beyond the headlines to reality.

I come from a small town. I love small town living, and I'll tell you why. In my 48 years here, I have seen people rise up and band together when there is trouble or distress. I have seen neighbors helping neighbors. I have seen strangers helping strangers. When there is a need, it gets filled. When there is a disaster, it gets handled. When there are tears, there is someone there to dry them.

I have seen humanity at its finest here in my little river town. Don't get me wrong, I have seen some petty junk too. There is always someone who wants to tear people down. There is always some grumpy Gus who can't stand to be happy, and so they try to drag others down with them. In my family, we used to say about a misspoken word, "You put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong sy-LLA-ble".

When we don't say a word right, it changes the entire meaning of the word ... of the sentence. In doing so, we can change the meaning of the entire paragraph, or chapter, or even the book. When we don't look at what is important, and don't handle it properly, we can turn the tide of everything after that.

On Facebook one day (yes, I'm kind of a junkie, but it's where I draw a lot of inspiration), one of my friends expressed this sentiment: "Just my observation. In all the little towns I've been to lately, I have found that all people, no matter what nationality, are getting along just fine. Actually seeming to go out of their way to just be nice. Why in the past few years or so has the news media promoted racism and discontent? I'm just not seeing it anywhere else but the news. Peace and love still reign across the USA!"

It got me thinking about my personal experiences and how humanity is not lost.

There is a local town that had a businessman who was not Caucasian. In fact, he was Muslim. Now, judging by the media and the current climate of our nation, I would have to say this man should be afraid to walk the streets of his small town, and he would surely fail in his business due to his beliefs.

That was not the reality, however. He had owned his business for decades and was a beloved member of the community. When a member of his family fell ill, the town rallied behind him and delivered meals and prayers and support.

When he was forced to close his business because of circumstances, dozens of people aided him in packing and clearing his store. He was loved. He was supported. His family was nurtured in a loving environment.

When my nephew who has Down syndrome was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 13, people did not turn away. I saw quite the opposite. People ran to his side. There was a benefit planned that raised more than $35,000 to aid in financing his travels to and from St. Jude for his 3-year chemo protocol. The kid was spoiled rotten with gifts. It was completely overwhelming. Our family couldn't go anywhere without inquiries about his health, his status.

There was genuine concern and compassion around every corner. There were over two dozen people at each of the planning meetings for the benefit, and generous donations of time, money and items to be auctioned on his behalf. There was love and support, not condemnation and discrimination because of his disability or disease.

Every day in my local news, I read stories of benefits being planned. I see schools supporting a sick student. I see pleas for clothing and supplies for fire victims. On a bigger scale, when I watch national news and see disasters being reported, I can look beyond the tragedy and see countless stories, told and untold, of humanity at its finest. People step up and take action to make someone's life better or easier.

Aren't we called to do just that? Aren't we called to empower and enable and lift up those around us? Aren't we called to be a shoulder, a supporter, a lover of our fellow man? Aren't we called to see these things? Aren't we called to put the em-PHA-sis on the right sy-LLA-ble and make sure the word, sentence, paragraph, chapter and book has a happy ending?

Lori Boekeloo of Hennepin is a mother of three. She can be reached at lorianne67@hotmail.com, or friend her on Facebook for more humor and inspiration on a daily basis.

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