It seems as though everywhere one turns these days one is inundated with how bad things are in our society. Dirty, partisan politics, clashes between the alt-right and antifa, harassment charges from every direction. It makes one wonder how mean-spirited and selfish we, as a society, have become.
Yesterday, while working the courtesy counter at Service Food in Perham, I witnessed something that gave me pause. Something that needs to be shared and celebrated. One of the Red Cross' red kettle sites is set up in the entryway of the store and one of the volunteers is Gordie Rud. I don't know Gordie; I hadn't met him until he came in the first time to get the bell he rings for the kettle. In fact, I'm not sure if he spells his name with an ie or y. What I do know is that he embodies something about which we all tend to forget.
Halfway through my shift, Gordie approached me at the courtesy counter and handed me a neatly folded $20 bill. He found it on the floor. Now, I'm pretty certain that almost everyone would have kept the money and celebrated their good fortune. But Gordie gave it to me and told me to hold on to it, just in case someone came to claim it. And that's good, in and of itself. But what took me aback is that Gordie said if no one claimed it, he wanted it put it in the red kettle. I don't think Gordie is independently wealthy. In fact I think Gordie, like pretty much everyone, could have put that $20 to pretty good use. But he chose to give it to a larger cause, to people he will never meet who need it more.
Right then and there, I was reminded of something that is all too often drowned out in the cacophony of bad news that surrounds us daily. At the heart of the vast majority of Americans, regardless of race or color or ethnicity or religious belief, there is a reservoir of inherent goodness and decency that we frequently lose sight of. Look at the relief workers, volunteer and otherwise, after Irma. Look at the firefighters in California. Look at the food pantry and backpack program in Perham. Look at Gordie Rud.