• The Chief Purpose Coach

Do the Right Thing

Do The Right Thing- by Spike Lee (1989)

This past week, I had an extremely proud mommy moment. While walking with my two youngest children from the train, they saw two gentlemen on adjacent corners who were seated on the ground, both holding signs that said 'Homeless and Hungry." My son, a curious and empathetic 7-year-old, looked concerned. As we debated on what to get to eat, he said to me "Mommy, I want to get something to eat for the homeless people." Wanting to encourage this type of empathy and compassion, I agreed.

What transpired next was a beautiful scene with him and my daughter picking out the menu of items they wanted to get, followed by them bagging the items carefully in separate bags. I said to them both "before we give the food, you should say "can I offer you some food?" My son then asked, "Can I practice?" Clearly, he was committed to being the best Samaritan he could be on that day. After his "rehearsal", we went outside, and he followed the instructions, gave his speech, and lit up like a Christmas tree when the man said "Thank you, little man! I was STARVING! This is so nice of you." My son was thrilled to hear the appreciation. He accepted the high five, as did my daughter, and we went across the street to the next gentlemen. They followed the same process, and again were met with adulation, praise, and gratitude, followed by a fist bump. As we walked away, my son and daughter almost levitated off the ground, high off the feeling of having done something nice for someone.

At that moment, I felt completely fulfilled as a parent, knowing that I and my husband, are raising good humans.

Later that evening at bedtime, I was tearfully telling my son how proud I was of him. I gleefully told him that his dad and I were so grateful that our kids are willing to help people, and that God would be pleased with his kind heart. And then, he surprised me. He got out of bed stomped and yelled, "Mommy, I'm so angry!" Confused, I asked, "Why? Why are you so upset?" He replied, "I don't understand how people could just walk by and act like they don't see a person when they say they're hungry. I saw his sign. Didn't they see his sign? But NO! They just kept walking by like they didn't see him. Like he was invisible. It's not right!" By then he was pacing back and forth, mimicking the people walking by those he clearly saw in need.

So, what do you say to that? How do you tell a child, that we as adults, often don't get it? We all have reasons for not seeing or responding to the pain and hurt in others, even when it's right in front of us. Maybe we're rushing somewhere. Maybe we give in other ways, or we're not trusting that the person who says they're hungry, would use what we give in the "right" way. Who am I to say that anyone must be compelled to give or help when their fellow man needs a helping hand. That's not my place. But what I can say is I appreciate the innocence, grace, and love demonstrated by my children that day. I hope that they maintain that spirit as they grow into adults, and that they will always choose to Do The Right Thing. In this time of divisiveness, partisanship, and cynicism, the world sure could use a little more love.

When was the last time that you "Did the Right Thing?" Please share in the comments below.

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