Each morning while reading the paper, I am compelled to check out the Charlie Brown comic strip. I have always liked it because there is so much reality tucked into it. The attitudes, activities, and emotions are pulled from real life and reflected back at us. So it was this morning. In the last few strips, Linus has been patting birds on their head, much to the consternation of his sister. When Charlie Brown asks him why he does it, he replies “because it makes them happy,” When Charlie Brown tells him he should stop, Linus asks why. Charlie says “because it embarrasses your sister.” But Linus presses and again asks “but if it makes me happy and it makes them happy, why shouldn’t I do it?” After some thought, Charlie replies “because nobody else does it.”
Boy, did they pluck that from the pages of my childhood, and in retrospect, most of my life. I have over the years found myself and others walking away from opportunities for no other reason then “nobody else does it,” without giving them another thought. Or, on the other hand, trying to validate an activity because “everyone else is doing it.” In either case, we are surrendering a piece of ourselves, not because it is wrong, but because we don’t want to be different. Well, here’s a flash. “We Are All Different!! We all march to our own drums. That’s what makes each of us who we are. To toss that aside because someone else may not like it, or do it, is a sad endorsement of who we are.
When we look beyond the excuses disguised as valid reasons, we find that our world does not crumble. We are not cast out of the temple. Oh sure, we will confront our share of nay-sayers, but for the most part, those that observe us will either outwardly or silently admire our courage. Let me give you a couple of examples.
I frequently read “Gotta Find A Home” by Dennis Cardiff. Here we find a man that has selflessly championed the cause of the “Homeless”, spending time and some of his own money to bring a little comfort, companionship, and yes, a little respect into their lives. What if he had said instead “they made their bed, let them lie in it,” or, more simply, “I can’t do that. Nobody else does it.”
I recently read about a young girl that had all her hair cut off because her best friend was going through chemo and had lost all of hers, even though “nobody else was doing it.”
I am also a disciple of “Good Time Stories” written by “Coach” where he showcases stories that bring a smile or a tear through the actions or words of others who took a moment to care. In many cases, the stories are special because the participants were stepping outside of their comfort zone just because it felt like the right thing to say or do. No more, no less.
I sometimes do that. Acting the fool to make someone laugh. Using self deprecating humor to let others know we are all fallible. But I also know it is too easy to brush aside chances to make a difference. Guilty as charged. I need to change my mindset to negate the “no one does that” mantra and replace it with “if not me, who?”