Today at the newspaper I got to go out on a special delivery (as I typed that Mr. McFeely from Mr. Rogers popped into my head…”Speedy delivery, speedy delivery!” I used to love that!!!)
Anyway…back to the subject…
Each year the fire department in St. Johnsbury, Vt., collects donations and then distributes them to families in the area. Each family gets a box of food and a frozen turkey for Christmas dinner. If there are children in the house, they also get a box of toys sorted by age and gender.
Today was delivery day and I got to go out on a delivery route with one of the trucks. For the first time I was an embedded reporter!
I took pictures for an hour while they loaded trucks and then we were out on the road for about another four hours. The truck I was on made about 80 stops. It was a lovely experience.
As we traveled around to different parts of town, I had brief conversations with a few of the recipients. To each one I asked the same question: “What does this delivery from the Santa Fund mean for you?” and almost every time I got exactly the same answer: “Everything.”
About 90 minutes before we were done, I started to get hungry. Between stops in the truck, I was dreaming about the lunch that I had waiting in the newsroom. Then I started feeling guilty: here are all these people that are struggling to make a holiday they can be proud of for their kids – many of them without the means to make a holiday dinner – and I’m frustrated because my lunch is delayed by an hour? It felt so out of proportion.
So I followed the thought a little further:
Why am I feeling badly? Because even though I don’t have a lot of money, I’ve got good food to eat and there are people who don’t have enough to eat.
Should I stop eating because other people don’t have enough? That is clearly an absurd solution. If I punish myself for having what others don’t, that makes me poor, miserable, and unable to do the work I’ve been put here to do. It also doesn’t put any food into their mouths.
It would seem to me that the only answer that makes sense is to keep doing what I’m doing: making the best life that I can for myself. It doesn’t help anyone if I deprive myself. But if I keep pushing toward greater levels of happiness, productiveness, prosperity, etc., I’ve got more to share. And I can share it in a more widespread way. The more resources I have, the more people I can touch.
I need to follow the example I saw today from the firefighters – they do their jobs, accept their paychecks, and then donate a day of their time to spread the wealth to others.
It was a good day.