We Can Each Make A Difference

We’re being flooded with negativity. Every day, it seems, there’s something newly horrific, upsetting, depressing, embarrassing, or just wrong that comes across our news feeds or in our personal communications.

I think that’s having a deeper impact on our collective well being that most people realize.

I’ve said for a long time that most news is news precisely because it’s unusual. It’s the exception, not the rule. And yet when faced with a constant stream of negativity it’s all to easy to start to feel just the opposite — to “normalize” what we read and hear.

A constant diet of negative news is bad for you. It can “…exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
Not All News Is Bad, “About” page

But it’s not normal. Not only should we not accept it as normal, we also need to realize that all this negativity that we do hear about is far, far outweighed in everyday life by the average and the good that we don’t see. The average and the good that really is normal.

That’s why I started supporting HeroicStories many years ago, and took the project on as it’s publisher in 2014.

Twice weekly original stories reminding us that people are good, that individuals and individual action matter.

You can help, too.

  • Start sharing some good news with your friends instead of continually debating the current state of affairs.
  • Read something other than news. Perhaps even step away from it for a while.
  • Volunteer.
  • Don’t correct someone who’s wrong on the internet. (Bonus points: compliment them instead. 🙂 )
  • Support organizations that make the world a more positive place — by whatever definition you choose. Do so in whatever way you choose — it doesn’t have to be financial — though that’s often the most effective.
  • Support people that need it. Donate to a GoFundMe that comes across your radar, or consider something like micro-lending out at Kiva.org.

Basically, use the resources that you have to take action that makes your world, and the world of the people around you, a more positive place.

In our focus on the negative it’s simply too easy to lose sight of all that remains good and true and honest around us. The difference we can all make is to notice and as a result balance the actions we take so that we’re not guilty of simply spreading more negativity.

We can all, in our own small ways, make the world a better place.

(Today’s post is a paraphrase of the original out on my personal blog.)

On to the last months worth of stories…

Gifts Beyond Price

A group of Vietnam Veterans is welcomed home at the Wall.

Fernando Murrieta says: This is truly a heart-melting story… and a very good example of the importance our actions may have. I think this is precisely what HeroicStories is all about.

Paul Sammelwitz says: Heart warming and so long over due!

Tacie says: The Vietnam War left so many scars that should never have been. The brave men & women who were just doing what they thought was the right thing (which it WAS the right thing) were vilified by the very people who should have been welcoming home with open arms. Long over due … thank you for your service.

Unexpected Reunion

After a storage unit is cleaned out by thieves, a woman receives an unexpected call with the location of her memorabilia.

Sidney Lichter says: I had a similar incident about a year ago. I received a call from a person who had worked at a local business that I’d used a few years earlier. She and her husband had been at an estate sale or auction, when they came across a box of memorabilia from a person who had held an important position in a a veterans organization I’m active in. A couple of days later she contacted me: would I like the material? I asked someone who had known the gentleman, and he said “Emphatically, yes”. I contacted the purchaser, and told her that we would, very definitely like the material, which included his wedding album and a record of his service in the armed forces. I offered to pay the people what they had laid out for the purchase, but they refused. They said that it was the least the could do for a veteran. The material is now in the hands of the curators/archivists of our museum, being prepared for public display.

Hats Off, Miss Rupp

A stern algebra teacher is remembered kindly many years later.

CRAIG MASON says: I remember reading this story when it first came out and both then and now, I thought back to the meanest math teacher I ever had, Grace Williams. She taught the higher order math classes, trigonometry, advanced Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Matrix Theory. I was not the struggling student of this story. No, I was the one who slept in the back row of the class and got 100’s on the assignments and tests. But Mrs. Williams would have none of that, moved me to the front row and never called on me, since she knew I always had the answer. She was such a mean teacher that after I finished first semester Calculus at college, I went back to see her, asked if I could say a few words to the class, and said something along the lines of “Mrs. Williams is the meanest Math teacher any of you will ever have in High School. Be sure to thank her for that, when you get to college.”

Small Town Generosity

A motorcycle breaks down in a small town and the rider learns about hospitality.

Cheryl says: Thanks so much for sharing – I think your story in itself is a way to use your experience to help others… I was impressed that you realized that the man who appeared to be supportive was not, and that you moved on- that is a huge step for anyone. Kudos!
It is also a story that leaves me wanting to know more! I would love to know how you are doing now.

Penning a Final Farewell

A brave father thinks of others at his son’s funeral… with a creative way to say goodbye.

Vickie in Texas says: I always enjoy these stories, but Penning a Final Farewell touched me deeply..Two years ago I had to bury my husband and I have a glimpse of how hard it is to think of others in a time of grief. This story blessed me.

Kel s says: I love this idea! I would love to see this become common practice. I imagine it could help people find closure and peace. This is such a beautiful story.

Cheryl says: This brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my friends, Dale and Dar Emme, who used a similar experience after their son committed suicide to reach out to his friends. Kudos to all who are able to comfort others as they go through their own sorrow. Richard is correct; such heroic responses to personal tragedy do comfort many – often rippling far out from the starting point. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of Don’s example and idea. I hope both are imitated often.

More than a Meal

A warm jacket becomes a lifelong memory of a honeymoon that turned chilly.

Cheryl says: What a generous wedding gift and lovely story. Thanks for sharing her heroic act.

He Never Told a Soul

A young “nerd” is tortured at school – until he finally receives a loving act of kindness from a roommate.

Celeste says: I’ve been a subscriber from the beginning, and I do not recall this story, so thank you for re running it. Wow, after years of abuse and neglect, it is fantastic that a ‘stranger’ showed Dan the kindness he always deserved. Thank you Dan for sharing this, and I’m so glad Vernon was there for you when you needed it.

Bowled Over by Kindness

A clerk helps a woman pick out a desk chair on sale… and then delivers it!

Celeste says: Selena’s excellent customer service was appreciated by Mia. I’m sure anytime Mia has an opportunity she tells everyone about it, or shops there when she can–doing what she can to repay the kindness. Selena above and beyond, because that is who she is. Right day and right time for all, a total win-win.

Mad Mark’s Advice

A small motorcycle shop owner has a lasting impact on a young man. Often we don’t know who we may be helping with our words and deeds.

Cheryl says: Often we never know how we impact others – one reason why Heroic Stories are valuable. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Celeste says: I always hope that the person being written about reads and knows how much what they did helped others. That in turn, the recipient– they lead by example and it spreads. But even if they didn’t find out, it wouldn’t change who they were or what they did or do. I’m just grateful the story was written and available to enjoy.

Committed to Honesty

An honest employee at a fast food restaurant finds a lost bag and keeps it safe until the owners return.

Kaye says: Teenagers willing to work late at night cleaning up at a fast food restaurant are already showing deep roots in traditional values, That girl is a keeper for whomever she works for!

If You Need Anything

With a little collateral, a tow truck driver helps two young men get back home.

Cheryl says: This is a wonderful story of many people going “above and beyond” to help others. But, for me, the best part is that the author learned the lesson at a relatively young age and has carried on to help others. I suspect that that is the greatest way he can honor those who helped him and his roommates. Thanks for the life example, James.

I hope your summer is going well. If you can, remember to do your part to make the world a little better somehow…

Leo A. Notenboom
Publisher & Co-conspirator to Make the World a Better Place