What makes the world go round?

February 07, 2017

By Father Joseph Breighner

Back in the very “old days,” when the 1849 gold rush was going on in our country, the saying attributed to prospectors was: “Gold is where you find it!” Perhaps the same might be said of kindness.

Let me tell a story. It was the night of Dec. 16, 2016. Freezing rain and snow were predicted for the next day, so I was shopping for an ice scraper for my car. (Note how I never wait until the last minute to do things.) I also needed some batteries.

So I entered the Dollar Tree in the Loch Raven Plaza shopping center at about 12 minutes before 10 p.m., when the store was scheduled to close. I saw two employees in the store, both young ladies. I asked one of the young women where I might find batteries, and she directed me to a certain place. After a few minutes of my searching in vain, she went and found the batteries for me.

The other young woman asked if I wanted to check out and I said I was also looking for an ice scraper. She directed me to aisle 16. Again I searched in vain. The problem wasn’t the store shelves, but my own challenged eyesight. Again I asked the first young lady, and she went and found one. “You got the last one,” she said. It was simply a hand-sized scraper. She went back down the aisle, and soon returned with another ice scraper. This one had a long handle, as well as a brush. “This is a lot better” she said. I agreed. I paid my two dollars, plus tax, and left the store.

I thanked both of them for their kindness. They said that they were happy to help.

I just wanted to thank them again in this column. No doubt, both of the young women were tired. This was at the end of the day. No doubt they had certain responsibilities for closing the store. Both obviously had “better” things to do than to help me. But both did just that.

I wasn’t wearing my clerical clothes. They didn’t know that I was a priest. I don’t own stock in Dollar Tree.

I suspect that both of them receive fairly humble salaries. As far as I know, neither of them have their names on any buildings. I suspect that neither of them is considering running for the office of president any time soon. I would vote for them if they did.

The political world is filled with stories of presidents and congressmen and women, and senators and governors, and various heads of state around the world. These are the people who seem to run the world. But, in truth, the world runs on the hard work and kindnesses of humble, “average” people.

Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth. A cynic once replied: “Yeah, and they’re still waiting for their  first yard.”

Perhaps what Jesus was saying is that there are not some important people. There are only important people. We all matter. We are all equally valuable despite artificial distinctions of class and salary.

The psalms tell us that the lowly will hear and be glad. To hear the voice of those in need is to hear the voice of God. May we always be low enough to hear that voice. May we always  be kind.