This I Believe

Lee - Hopkinton, Massachusetts
Entered on June 20, 2007

I believe that we can always do a little better – try to be a better person. I know this seems vague, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that many of us need to work at expanding the ‘goodness’ in our lives. For me it might mean having a little more patience or being a little friendlier. It could simply mean that I try harder to say something nice to someone who might need a kind word. It all sounds small and simple, but it can have an impact on our lives and the lives of those around us.

I was driving through Wellesley Hills the other day. It’s a lovely area and I was enjoying the bright sun and thinking of the beautiful town around me. “What a nice town!” I thought.

As I sat at a traffic light, I watched an older man on the sidewalk beside me, struggling with his wheelchair. He was literally inching his way forward and I swore I saw him roll back a bit at one point. He had a scruffy, gray beard and he was a bit hunched in his chair – which made him look small. I looked around to see if I could pull over to help, but there were no places to park. As I sat at that light, I was hopeful that one of the people coming up the hill behind him would reach him and offer a push. It was 12:55pm and people were heading back to their offices after lunch.

First there was a young, professional woman, talking on her cell phone. As she came up behind the gentleman in the wheelchair, I knew she was NOT going to offer any help. Her step never wavered and she did not even glance in his direction. She just kept walking and talking, passing him in an instant.

Next came a woman and a man. They were not a couple – probably just 2 people who work together. As they approached the man in the wheelchair, my light turned green and I started forward slowly. I wanted to see if they would offer any help. I could see them as they walked right by him as well. .

I can’t presume to know what those people were thinking. It’s hard to acknowledge that some of us are unable to reach out to someone in need, even when the opportunity is right in front of us. Have we become so self-absorbed that we can walk right by an older man in a wheelchair, struggling to make it up a hill? Have I?

I should have found a place to pull over after that light and gone back to see if I could help. I don’t feel like I tried hard enough to be a better person that day. So, once again, I believe that I can do a little better tomorrow.