The spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind

I recently read this article in Wired about eradicating polio.  It says last year there were only 223 cases of polio in the world, which seems pretty close to eradication of the virus.  But it turns out eliminating those last cases is really, really hard.  The reason being that the places where polio is still found are, almost by definition, very hard to reach. They include Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Nigeria.  A worldwide campaign to eradicate polio began in 1988, and its success is measured by the fact that there were 350,000 cases that year.  There is reason to think the campaign will eventually succeed, but it isn’t and won’t be easy.

This made me think of other kinds of problems and human needs.  I think a lesson from the polio eradication effort is that people who greatly need help are often, almost by definition, very hard to reach.  This thought has been with me for a few weeks since I read the Wired article, and it makes my heart very heavy.  Human suffering seems infinite, and efforts to stay it feel puny.  But I’m also thinking of Paul’s words in 2nd Timothy chapter 1: “For God hath not given you a spirit of fear [or of despair]; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”   I also have a little mantra for myself that I repeat when I need hope, which is it’s that I’ll try to 1) do no harm, 2) help who I can help, and 3) create beauty.  A friend just reminded me that we can only help who we can help.  I recognize that this is true.  But I also want to see people who are hard to see and not close my eyes to their problems.  And so I pray to see more so that I can do more.

Can you tell me a story of when you’ve been able to help someone?  Or when someone has helped you?  I need to hear some stories about goodness.

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10 Responses

  1. Angie says:

    1) one morning, my visiting teacher texted me, and it made me feel so loved. I can still remember the feeling I had of being cared for
    2) we live in Mumbai, India, and a British woman here is organizing an Auction of Promises to raise money for the relief of typhoon victims in the Philippines
    3) I worked as a school counselor in an at-risk high school in inner-city Las Vegas, and the students had suffered and did suffer major traumas. This was overwhelming me, so I went to all the staff members I knew were religious, and I asked them to pray for the students, asking that God would remove obstacles and work miracles in the students’ lives. Then I went to each English class and talked with the students about helping to carry each other through our hard times. We may not be able to fix each others’ problems, but we can comfort each other through our challenges. God worked miracles in that school – such a feeling of unity and progress, and obstacles just disappeared.

  2. MB says:

    I have too many stories of people helping to be able to tell them all, but I can name some venues where I find such stories regularly.

    In my family one individual is a physician. For years he has sponsored, personally housed and helped train physicians from 3rd world countries so that they can better treat their patients. Another makes regular trips to Africa to do the same.
    A third organizes and sponsors annual fundraisers for medical research for the treatment of a medical condition that affects thousands of children each year.
    A fourth person, a film editor, works on documentaries to raise awareness of various social needs.
    Another couple takes in individuals or families who need temporary housing while they struggle with underemployment or need a place to stay while receiving treatment at a nearby hospital. They currently have two living with them.
    Another family member works to assist low-income families in her city’s neighborhoods to build and maintain community gardens.
    A friend of mine is currently caring for five foster children from three different families while their parents struggle through drug treatment plans.
    Another friend serves on the board of and spends many hours at a city charity organization that specializes in reaching out to the homeless who are also dealing with addictions and/or mental illness.
    Another spends time each day working at the local food bank.

    There are many people working to do good in the world.

  3. Rachel says:

    I saw something beautiful on the train yesterday, that my husband and I had the tiniest part in. An older black gentleman moved through the subway car, asking if anyone could offer change, food, or water. I always have snacks with me (usually things like granola bars and fruit leather), so I thought yes, I can help. Then my husband reminded me that I had other food in my bag, that had just been gifted us at a Christmas party. I gave it the man (along with some granola bars), and he thanked me. But what happened next was better. There had been a man sitting directly across from me, taking up many seats, wrapped in blankets. There was an unpleasant smell. I watched as the first gentleman asked the second if he was hungry, too, and then he opened up his pouch, and shared some of the things he had received, including one of the granola bars. I could have helped that man also, but I didn’t think about it until I saw the scene.

    Times when I have been helped? So many days since I have given birth. So many. (I plan to write more about it later.)

  4. EmilyCC says:

    We were invited to go caroling tonight with some ward friends. I told them we couldn’t because we were hosting our Mormon LGBT and ally group tonight. I said they were welcome to come sing to us, but they didn’t have to.

    They all came and sang to us. We gave them cookies, and I was able to say to our group, “There’s my bishop and the Elders Quorum president and the last Primary president. They all knew what we were doing here tonight, and they came and sang to us.”

    It gave me lots of hope.

  5. Caroline says:

    “I also want to see people who are hard to see and not close my eyes to their problems. And so I pray to see more so that I can do more.”

    I love that. Thank you, Emily. And I love the examples the commenters have left.

    I don’t have any major examples off the top of my head, but I was touched that two women from our ward wanted to bring dinner to us the other night after Mike’s back surgery. It was such a nice gesture.

  6. Alisa says:

    I have a tremendous respect for those who create beauty. It may be something simple (even kitschy) as putting up holiday lights for others to enjoy, but for those with tremendous talent and hard work to compose music or poetry, for those who worked hard to become performers, dancers, singers, actors. It gives me hope.

  7. Emily U says:

    Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts. They’ve really boosted my spirits.

  8. Audrey says:

    This month a few families got together to be Secret Santa to an investigating family in our ward. They’ve been living in a motel. It was so fun and we all felt giddy dropping the gifts by their door. Another family had the same family house-sit while they were out of town for 2 wks, saving them significant money.
    A friend of mine lost her niece to leukemia last year, and this year she joined a group to decorate a family’s home for Christmas whose child is dying of cancer. He spends most of his time sleeping but was so excited to be able to control the outside Christmas lights by remote control that he stayed awake much more than he had been of late. All the stories posted give me hope.

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