Shifting my weight to the foot closest to the house, the nagging ache in my arm causes me to drop the brick-red stained paintbrush to my side and pause. I take a moment and look around at those surrounding me. Twenty or so kids just like me from all across America stand in my presence at the house of someone I have yet to say more than five words to. Only a day earlier we had been standing outside in the downpour of rain doing the same thing. We have been repeating difficult yet monotonous tasks for four days straight now, and yet we still hold hammers, paintbrushes, paint buckets, water bottles and table saws. Smiles and pleasurable chatter have never ceased as the work on this house draws near a close.
Years of abuse have stained this house. Youth, much unlike ourselves, in the actions they chose to participate in have left sad scars all over the house. Bent pieces of siding speak of plastic baggies containing drugs that had been hidden behind them, then replaced with money, and then repeated the next week, or day. Windows sport stress fractures and bullet holes as drop-outs had found amusement in their days of boredom and restlessness. But as I look at these teenagers I smile to myself. We may not be making the news and we may not be making a big difference right now, but we are winning.
Before this moment of the battle of the every day life of fighting temptation and negativity, I have never had the strength to say that this is all that matters. This moment, this time, and this good that I am doing is all that is important. The love that is shared between us all, and the compassion and true selflessness that is going on right now is all that counts. We are happy and we are proud and we are truly doing the good work of God. Figuratively speaking, I am on top of the world marvelling at the vastness of all that I have in front of me to help and the mass of people that have already been affected by our deed. Practically speaking though, I am on a fifteen foot high ladder, about to lose my footing, staring at the ground (though helpful as it may be to break my fall) pondering the least painful place to end my inevitable plunge.
And while the ladder may be wobbly and my footing losing strength, my belief in the good that surrounds me and fills the hearts of those around me is unshakeable. We are defeating the evil in the battle of good versus bad. Time after time our generation is told that we aren’t doing anything good for tomorrow. But I believe that regardless of the one-sidedness of the media portrayal of our generation at this time, and regardless of the squeaky wheel always getting the grease, and regardless of the number of times the negative impression of my peers is impressed upon me, good really is winning the war and maybe I won’t fall off the ladder after all.
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