The Power of Goodwill

Anna - Hinsdale, Illinois
Entered on June 29, 2007

There is this theory that states if a butterfly flaps its wings in India, a hurricane is created in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems silly, illogical, and unreasonable, but nothing could be more true. Let’s start with a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt.

It starts its journey in a booth inside Lambeau Field where it is innocently picked up for ten dollars by some father who wants to initiate his young son into the world of football. The gleeful child wears it for a year, maybe two, until his well nourished body outgrows it. It ends up in a closet where it is placed in a large bag with other well-worn items destined for the Salvation Army. After spending months on a shelf, ignored by even the neediest in our country, it is loaded on to a plane and sent on its way.

The next time it sees the sunlight is in the arms of a relief worker in Arusha, Tanzania trying to serve a line of men, women, and children that stretches right out the door of the small storefront. It finds itself covering the small body of young boy from a mountain village outside the city. The sweatshirt will stay with him for many years, protecting him from the cold mountain air as he slowly matures.

His name is Joshua and a Packers sweatshirt is what made him stand out to me from the beginning. It was just a silly football rivalry, but it reminded me of home. Every time I saw him pass by while I was doing construction work in his village, a smile would slowly creep across my face. I remember how careful he was with that sweatshirt—it was the main component of the only set of clothes he owned. Did he know that the same money that bought that sweatshirt could send a child in Tanzania to school for a year? I suspect not, but it kept him warm and he felt lucky to have it.

Everything we do, every move we make has an effect not only on those around us, but on total strangers half way around the world. Actions that may seem as inconsequential as the flap of a butterfly’s wings can have the same lasting impact as a hurricane on the life of a fellow human being. This is why I believe in the power of goodwill.