Sunday, January 1, 2023

The Ethical Outliers Nobody Knows, Nobody Sees

I don't know about you but with me, if I am not noodling thoughts then I have music running through my mind. If it's not songs with lyrics, it might be a familiar symphony (frequently Beethoven or Tchaikovsky), piano excursions by Chopin or cool blue jazz (Ahmad Jamal or Miles Davis are regulars.)

While shoveling snow recently (we've had a lot the past two weeks) it was Johnny Cash. The song going through my head was "The Long Black Veil."

The Long Black Veil

Ten years ago, on a cold dark nightSomeone was killed, 'neath the town hall lightThere were few at the scene, but they all agreedThat the slayer who ran, looked a lot like me

The judge said son, what is your alibiIf you were somewhere else, then you won't have to dieI spoke not a word, though it meant my lifeFor I'd been in the arms of my best friend's wife
She walks these hills in a long black veilShe visits my grave when the night winds wailNobody knows, nobody seesNobody knows but me
Oh, the scaffold is high and eternity's nearShe stood in the crowd and shed not a tearBut late at night, when the north wind blowsIn a long black veil, she cries ov're my bones
She walks these hills in a long black veilShe visits my grave when the night winds wailNobody knows, nobody seesNobody knows but me

Songwriters: Danny Dill / Marijohn Wilkin

* * *  

The words I wanted to focus on were these: "Nobody knows, nobody sees." 

We all know about the things that we hear about in the news. In fact, most of us who have been around a while know that secrets don't remain secret very long once they're shared. A pastor once said to me that he had learned that "if I tell one person I am telling the whole church." He was referring here to the secrets people confided to him in private counseling.

My brother, a professional counselor, likewise understands the importance of confidences 

While singing this song I thought about the people who are moral outliers, the people who are extremely bad or remarkably generous. Tommy Lee Jones near the end of No Country For Old Men was reflecting on how frighteningly dark and bad the evil is out there, but we only learn about the world's Jeffrey Dahmers after they get caught. Until it comes to light, becomes headline news, we're unaware of it. 

This prompted me to reflect on the amazing people who are serving others in sacrificial ways, but who don't put press releases out to the media or draw attention to their actions in other ways. They are generous as an expression of their gratitude for having themselves been blessed. Perhaps they don't even have money, but they volunteer at a hospice or raise a child whose parents have died. I know the media can foster animosity toward the rich, but some of these may be giving far beyond what they could have in ways we can't even imagine. Countless doctors donate their services overseas to serve at hospitals run by volunteer doctors who take turns meeting needs in Madagascar and elsewhere. 

We're familiar with Mother Theresa, but how many others are doing the same whom we've never heard of or never will.

As we stand on the threshold of a new year, maybe we can slow down a little and pay attention a little more to what is going on around us so we can notice opportunities to heal a hurting heart with a kind word, befriend someone who has lost a loved one or _______. (Fill in the blank.)

Make your 2023 an adventure by making a difference for good, whether anyone sees or not.

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