Everyday, I repeat these words a thousand times as I teach and train my little charges to exist in the world in a pleasant and orderly way. "Silas, say please." "Kinley, don't forget to say thank you!"
Over the last week, I've been reminded why I spend so much time on those simple words. I'll tell you why...
We have been watching the catastrophe of Katrina escalate and ravage.
Unfortunately, we do not have choices for which American news network we can watch. We are forced to endure the politically biased messages of CNN (did I say that outloud?).
I am frustrated and dismayed over the angles and stories CNN reporters and producers continually choose and chase.
For days we (and the international community) have seen images and stories on CNN. People demanding help with curse words and accusing everyone under the sun for their pain. CNN and its reporters continually hammer the message "too little is being done", "work is too slow","chaos exists", "NO ONE is helping". We've often had to switch the TV off to protect our children and our own selves from the words being chosen as people plead for help.
Many people see these images and are fed only negative messages. And we wonder why people think badly of Americans. Could it be our own news agencies feed negative information to the world in their own efforts to get the "gritty story" (and the most viewers and thus the most money...). Just a question. Okay, I'll admit it. Its an accusation.
Occasionaly, a calm person is put on the screen. A person who asks for help and prayers,without offensive words. Someone who explains the situation and analyzes what needs to be done. That is a person we listen to. A person we can hear.
It is possible, and very admirable, to be calm in the face of disaster. And it saves lives over and over again.
Jeff and I have wondered about the stories not being told. Coast Guard rescuers, FEMA workers, superdomes opening up, churches providing food- shelter -clothes, a Weather prediction system that alerted us TWO DAYS ahead that the storm was coming, Lousiana citizens who drove out of New Orleans in an orderly fashion... we haven't been hearing very many thank you's on CNN.
Several years ago, Jeff and the church members here in Ft. Portal were involved in aiding catastrophe stricken people here. They spent days driving food, medical supplies and people to help those who had lost everything. The days were long and unbelievably, thankless.
I remember one evening in particular when Jeff dragged in exhausted and more emotionally spent than normal. He related some of the events of his day and at one point, his eyes filled with tears and his face lit up. In the midst of a chaotic mess of people, one woman approached their truck and said, "Thank you." He described the words she said, the look on her face...he remembered every detail.
At that time we remembered the story of 10 healed lepers. Men who because of a horible sickness, lost everything. And in one amazing moment, a man named Jesus, gave them everything back. Was he showered with overwhelming gratitude? No. Only one man came back to Jesus and said thank you. It was, apparently, a moment worthy of mention because it is included in holy scripture. A Thank You.
So, for today, in this cyber world I will use my space to say, "thank you." Thank you to all who are going without sleep and sacrificing their time, money and resources to help. Thank you to Louisiana and New Orleans citizens who showed kindness to each other as they evacuated. Thank you to the weather experts who gave warning in advance so lives could be saved. Thank you to the heroes who may never get airtime.
I know you are out there serving. Because it is America we are talking about. And my America is full of heroes.
I will continue on this quest for manners with my children. You never know in this big 'ole world what amazing circumstances may land my children in front of a camera or allow them an opportunity to speak to the world. I pray they will choose words that are effective and kind...and bring blessing to the hearers.