It starts with me. It starts with you.
I used to love priming the old hand pump at grandma's house. The cistern held water from the barn roof and would be used to water the cows. Pouring water into the top of the pump, while working the handle, would prime the mechanism and lift water out of the cistern as long as your arm could keep moving the pump handle. Once one stopped pumping, the water would drain back down into the cistern and a new dose of water would be needed to prime the pump again.
Life is a lot like that old barn pump. Once you get something good going, it takes a catalyst and movement to keep things going. One depends on the other. I am talking about positive things in life, but I suppose I could also be speaking of negative things too. One kind word to another person promotes good words from the other person in return. Conversely, harsh words also usually promote words in kind.
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12, NIV)
The other day, I was running the loop at Rec Park. I approached three folks walking the path and they were stretched out across the pathway forcing me to run out into the grass to pass them. They weren't really aware of my approach and they apologized for not yielding. I told them not to worry. All was well.
Not 30 yards down the path was a borough employee cutting the soccer field grass. As I came near, he stopped the mower and shut off the blades to avoid any unforeseen shrapnel from flying out of the mower. (Bottom of the photo) As I ran by him, I yelled a big, "THANK YOU" and he turned, looked at me, and yelled back, "YOU'RE WELCOME!'
(Rec Park, Lewistown, PA)
As I plodded along, the employee kept mowing and eventually stopped as the three people walked by him. I like the safety aspect of stopping mowers and weed eaters when in close proximity of pedestrians. It may be borough policy. It could just be this person using common sense and decency too. Well, on the other side of the loop (Top of the photo) I saw the big green mower heading in my direction once again and I made a return gesture toward the employee. I ran way up on the bank far from the path so that the man would not have to stop and wait for me to pass. As I ran by well out of harm's way, I heard the mower guy yell, "THANK YOU!" and I answered back, "YOU'RE WELCOME!" He started it by stopping his mower. I continued it by thanking him for the safety gesture. I continued it by moving off the path and he carried it on by offering me a thank you. If I had strength to run thirty more laps, the gratitude between us would have grown more and more.
Taking stock of our world and specifically our country, imagine the change that could occur if we were genuinely civil toward each other. Imagine if we first thought of the other person's position and did something to help them. What might our world look like if we truly lived out Matthew 7:12? It isn't too difficult. It comes down to you and I making a conscious decision to be nice to each other. It requires some thought and thoughtfulness. It demands a little sacrifice too. In the end, another person will have experienced love, grace, and gratitude by our simple gesture of kindness. Go ahead and exercise your ability to change this mean and nasty world into something much more friendly and palatable. It starts with me. It starts with you. And, begin!