Don’t Let Ebola and the Taliban put the kabosh on selfless acts of loving kindness
“Nice guys come in last” was touted as a vital lesson and repeated, almost like a mantra, in my childhood home. As an adult the belief morphed into a belief that all elected leaders will eventually betray you when the whim strikes and, therefore, loyalty to them is not warranted was touted under the mantra of, “To thine own self be true.” It is possible to be true to yourself by being true to others, but that position seems hard to defend when it costs you your life.
This past week, Thomas Eric Duncan, the man best known for bringing Ebola to America, died in Dallas. No funeral has been planned for his cremated remains since his quarantined fiancé and her son would not be able to attend the funeral.
It is important for us to remember that he contracted Ebola when a pregnant woman collapsed on the street and he carried her into a nearby house. She later died and so did he. He could have just kept walking when he saw her in distress but, like a Good Samaritan, he stopped and helped her when, undoubtedly, many others did not. He did the honorable thing, and he, like so many others, including the Americans we will soon celebrate on Veteran’s Day, paid for his service to others with his life.
Another recent news story is about seventeen year old, Malala Yousafzai. At the age of fourteen, the outspoken activist for the rights of Muslim women and girls to be educated defied warnings and, as the world knows, the Taliban boarded her school bus and shot her in the face. She was fourteen years old, and her crime was riding a school bus to become educated. She defied warnings to live in London or the United States lest they come after her again. But rather than thinking that she had done enough already ~ she increased her advocacy on behalf of women and girls and at the age of seventeen, became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was called out of her classroom and told the news of her award, and she then returned to class. Later that day she said, “One teacher, one student, one book, and one pen can change the world.” She once stated that the Taliban could take away her life, but they could not take away her cause. She did the honorable thing and almost paid for it with her life.
Many American Veterans died in a field. Liberian, Thomas Eric Duncan, died in an isolation ward of a hospital. Muslim Pakistani, Malala Yousafzai, almost died on a school bus. Many health care workers face an uncertain fate as incidences of Ebola transmission begin to surface. These are special, but not unique people. They are like many thousands of people who, on a daily basic, do the honorable thing and risk their health, safety, and their very lives to help others.
They are like many of you who serve in less dramatic but just as significant ways by working through the church It doesn’t take a Nobel Peace Prize to make the world a better place. All it takes to change the world, according to Malala Yousafzai, “one teacher, one student, one book and one pen.”
If indeed, “nice guys come in last” ~ then we should honor and recognize the millions of people who are proudly and humbly vying for the back of the line.