“A Mostly Good World,” column for July 12, 2016

What’s this world coming to?

My mother mumbled that while reading the paper. My grandmother whispered it at too-short skirts. My granddad spit it like tobacco juice at any kind of cruelty or injustice.

It wasn’t a question so much as a comment: The world, as they saw it, was going to a place where good people and their children did not want to go.

I kept waiting for the world to get to that place. Somehow it never did. It came close at times, more often than I can tell you. But in the darkest moments _ in heartache and fear and absolute despair _ the world remained for me a mostly good place.

Bad things happened for me and my loved ones just as they do for you and yours. But good things happened, too, in far greater measure than bad.

At least, that’s how I saw it.

I remember a rainy Sunday in church, when I was maybe 12 years old, hearing for the first time this Bible verse:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” _ Phillipians 4:8.

I loved the beauty of those words and the wisdom I felt in them. Why? They just made sense to me. Part of that sense was that life offers choices _ not in the cards we’re dealt, but in how we play them, and the ways we choose to “think on” them.

Do we open our eyes to the good that surrounds us? Or do we hold a magnifying glass to our fears? Are we quick to judge, or do we offer the same grace we hope to be given? Do we keep wishing someone would change the world? Or do we become the change _ some small piece of it _ that we want to see?

Questions like that are harder to answer some days than others _ especially on days like those of late, when the news is filled with shootings and hatred and death.

Recently, I walked out into a parking lot to get in my car and found on the windshield my front license plate, with a note from someone named Sara.

“Someone hit your car (hard enough to knock off the license plate) and took off,” Sara wrote. She gave a description of the car with its license plate number, and her cell phone number in case I had questions.

I checked the bumper. It was fine. The license plate was bent and clips that held it in place were broken. It wouldn’t take much to fix. But if Sara hadn’t bothered to place it on the windshield, I’d have driven off without it, not even noticed it missing, maybe, for days.

It was 115 degrees in that parking lot. I pictured Sara standing there with sweat dripping off her halo, taking the time to write that note for one reason only: She thought it was the right thing to do.

I phoned and left a message to thank her. She called back and left a message saying it was nothing, just something she hoped others would do for her.

I told that story to my husband. To the repairman who fixed the license plate. To the birds in my back yard. And to you. I’ll tell it again any chance I get. Good news begs to be told.

Will I always see the world as “mostly good”? There are things I can’t imagine surviving. Yet I know people who’ve suffered unspeakable losses and refused to let it make them cynical.

I take hope in their hope.

The world is changed by the choices we make, how we see ourselves and each other, and by the hope that comes from bearing each other’s burdens and sharing our good news.

What’s this world coming to?

It’s coming to all of us _ to you and me and a whole lot of “mostly good” people.

What will we do with it?

Comments

  1. Mary Baldacci says:

    As I am spending the last few days in Monterey, I feel the luv and think of all your kind words. Each day has been stunning but a few tragic things such as the fire in the Canyon between here and Big Sur. As Aunt Vicki said ” they’ve found us”. Throngs of people along Hwy 1 in awe of the splendor of the ocean. The Montery Aquarium bringing all people together to explore that vast body of water. Fisherman’s Warf and all it’s culture, each person speaking their language, wearing their heritage with pride. Thank you Montery for bring hope to all who visit!

  2. Sharon,
    I have read and reread this marvelous piece. It truly helps me hope above hope in these troubled times. Thanks for shining this light of love for all of us to share.
    Continued blessings,
    Bruce

  3. I appreciate your kind and inspirational words. My husband and I are devoted to selfless public service. In doing so, we have always chosen the hard right over the easy wrong. We want to leave the world a better place. Each of us has the responsibility to make the right choices. Thank you Sharon for speaking directly to us.

  4. I appreciate your kind and inspirational words. My husband and I have devoted our lives to selfless public service. Choosing the hard right over the easy wrong is how we look at everything. It is up to all of us to make this world a better place. We all have choices to make. Thank you Sharon for helping make that difference.

  5. Beverly Burchfield says:

    Sharon, I’m always drawn to your articles. Many times I start a newspaper column without reading the heading or the byline. After just a few words, I’d guess 70% of the time, I go on to other news in the paper. In your case, though, 100% of the time, I’m drawn to reading your entire column. Not only because of the way you write, but because of your life philosophy. Today’s column, “Placing faith in…” was so on target for the way I WANT (and try) to be. I’ve always believed one of the most powerful abilities God has given us is the power to choose–our choices can make or break us. I know and believe that; however, I’m afraid I “hold a magnifying glass” to my fears many, many times. Your article gave me a push to see the good that surrounds me and to think on the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, and praise-worthy things as much as I can. Thank you for this article; I have kept it and will re-read it for needed reminders. Keep on writin’, dear lady. Bev B.

  6. Barbara Cornett says:

    Daddy always told us to be sweet, loving and kind. I’m sure he had the words of Phil 4:8 in mind. Dwelling on the pure and lovely is the only way to act that way. If only everyone heard those words regularly. Thank you for the lovely article!

  7. Shashi Saini says:

    I wrote a comment, God knows where it went ? thank you for nice column again! Lot of love, Sharon! Getting my eyes back after more than two weeks. Right eye is doing good . something is not very well with left eye which was operated on 14 th June. Will see my follow up doctor soon.

  8. terry reeves says:

    Thank you so much for this one. Your columns are always wonderful but this one just goes to a whole new level of grace. I have cut it out to save with the (rather few) pieces that speak to me so that I really hear it.

    And again, thank you. Over and over.

    Terry Reeves

  9. Shashi Saini says:

    Sorry ,I am late to read such a nice column. Things happened in last few weeks shakes my heart to sit in one corner of house and pray for good innocent people. A few bad people think that they can win doing worst things. But they would never live peacefully. I pray for them too so that if they stay alive God give them little more sense to bear the loss they had done living with mental illness. Thank you Sharon for keeping good work up !

  10. Adrienne Thomas says:

    Thank you Sharon for the words of wisdom…..so refreshing to hear with all the pain and chaos in the world! God is still a good God and his words do give us peace. We are responsible to be kind and loving to all those around us and focus on the positive things in our lives. Sometimes people think that the small contributions they make daily do not matter but they are recognized by others. We are to love and forgive others around us on a daily basis, not just for them but for ourselves. it gives us the strength we need in our own lives.

  11. Torie says:

    Dear Sharon
    What a wonderful column you wrote here. I’m forwarding it to everyone I know and printing out copies for those of my friends not on social media. It helps me to keep from spiraling down into sadness at today’s news. As a grandmother to two handsome African American boys and also a brave police officer in the Atlanta area, I thank you.

  12. Kathleen M. Collier says:

    You are my favorite columnist! I always look forward to reading your view on the world. Thank-you for the light you have given us today. It is so much needed. It reminds me of our 13th Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow that admonition of Paul-we believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

  13. Ruth H. says:

    Thank you for this uplifting article. I always enjoy your column. But, today it spoke volumes.
    Phillipines 4:8 is one of my favorite passages. I’m pleased you shared it with your readers. If we all turned to God’s word, or shared His word, our world would become a much better place! Keep up the good work! Ruth

  14. Lee Rosenzweig says:

    thank you for seeing the good…too many only see the bad…your bible quote was perfect

  15. Debbie K says:

    Great column, as usual. Some days, it is so difficult to find good in this world. What a sweet thing for Sara to do for you. It warmed my heart (no pun intended given the temperature that day) that she shares the name with my youngest granddaughter. Thanks again, for your beautiful words.

  16. Marianne Wymer says:

    It was good to read your words of encouragement. The world seems to be spinning out of control, but I do know many “good people” and your column helped me to remember that. I’ve been really thinking hard about how I can “become the change”.

  17. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of the need to be the change we want to see. I had just had a meltdown of sorrow over the death of the love of my life two weeks ago. I knew he was a special man, but all the wonderful stories his children (8 stepchildren but HIS children when he spoke of them) have told of how he rescued them from poverty and how hard he tried to be a good father to them has shown me how very special he truly was.

    Sharon, I have written to you in the past because our lives traveled parallel paths: death of our husbands due to cancer, several years of single life, and then finding love again in a second marriage. I feel as though you’re my sister by another mother. I think I’ll write a real letter to you soon telling you my darling husband’s story.

  18. dclark says:

    you said it all thankyou for quoting the Bible God Bless you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Angela N says:

    Hi Sharon! I usually don’t feel strongly enough about articles to actually respond to them, but this morning, as I sit in my kitchen in Abilene, Texas reading the actual newspaper (love the feel of the paper in my hands) I felt an overwhelming desire to reach out to you. Your article this morning … this article… is exactly what we need to hear more of! Hatred, fear, cynicism. Its pervasive in the tv we watch, the radio we listen to, the newsfeed on our technogadgets. It’s all winding us up or getting us down. Thank you so much for being a shining light! This message is EXACTLY what we all need to hear and be reminded of. Over and over. Thank you for being a beacon for humanity. And may I say… Now that you have gone out on your own, I love the whole tone of your articles even more. You’ve found your true voice. Lovely!

  20. Susan Kovarick says:

    I needed to hear each word from “A Mostly Good World” column and once again have to give thanks for your insights.

  21. Robyn France says:

    Sharon, that was a beautiful column, just what we need for these times. I attended a funeral this week for someone who died too young from cancer. The pastor spoke of her finding the little miracles in each day, despite her pain and illness. You are such a good reminder to us to do what is right and good each day–we make the world what it is, all of us. I am grateful for your sharing your wonderful stories with us.

  22. hookedonchrist says:

    We likewise remember “the hope to which we have been called” (Eph. 1:18).
    A lovely message…

  23. Pam Dozier says:

    I’m with you, my friend. Thanks for this beautifully written reminder.

  24. Doris Hudson says:

    Tomorrow we will lay to rest a beautiful friend and colleague who is gone much too soon and was a sweet, kind , creative presence in this old world. Your words have brought such a sense of peace and gratitude. It’s as if I could hear your words echoed in Pam’s life and I am grateful to be reminded…In the midst of sadness and loss, there is much good to be found. And much more to look forward to! I have read and loved your writings for many years now and so appreciate your gift of putting together just the right words to express eternal truths. God Bless you and yours!

  25. Jody S. says:

    Thank you–from a fellow Pollyanna type.

  26. Sheila Torres says:

    Wonderfully said ❤️S

  27. Connye Neal says:

    You spoke to my heart today . Thank you eternally !

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