Disasters. Scandals. Tragedies. Death. These days, it seems everywhere you turn, there’s a reason to lose faith in humanity and the beauty of life.
It’s no secret we’ve become a world that’s angry and divided. In the climate we live, it can be easy to believe goodness is gone and beauty is slaughtered. It can be easy to get roped into the pessimistic belief that we’re on a downward slope as a society.
These viewpoints beckon individuals down a dark path of loneliness, sadness, anger, and fear. The more we believe the world lacks goodness and beauty, the more apt we are to dismiss any glimmers of it. We become wrapped up in a vortex of negativity. We become certain we’re living in William Golding’s novel and, that like the boys on the island in Lord of the Flies, we’re bringing about our own slaughtering as our savagery as a species emerges.
I’m not judging anyone who feels these things because, like so many of us in 2017, I’ve been feeling them, too. I find myself in a cloud of gloom and doom, wondering how things could get any worse. It seems like every day I’m barraged with horrific stories that make me lose faith in humanity and in our society.
Nonetheless, today, I was reminded of the fact so many of us have abandoned: There is still goodness in the world. There is still beauty, charity, connection, and morality.
We just have to be willing to see it.
How Target Reminded Me That All Is Not Lost
The scent of the Starbucks coffee tempting me in the afternoon slump, I stood impatiently in line at our local Target. My arms were bursting with coffee mugs, scarves, glittery stickers, winter pencils and the two things I actually went into Target for—the lure of Target’s amazing finds is a story for another article, but I’m counting on the fact many of you know what I’m talking about.
I tapped my foot, checking the time on my phone again. All lines in the store were long. I noticed a woman frantically checking the time in the line beside me, anxious and in a hurry. Clearly stressed, she was rushing to get through her line as quickly as possible, panic written on her face. She got through her line before I even got to unload my items onto the counter—this is nothing new, as I have terrible luck in picking fast checkouts.
As I watched my items pass over the scanner, the woman long gone, someone pointed to a pile of money on the ground in her line. Questions emerged as to whose it was.
No one claimed it as their own. No one hurried to scarf up the pile of money abandoned on the floor, 20-dollar bills easily recognizable in the stack.
“I think that woman who was in a hurry dropped these,” the couple in line said to their cashier, drawing attention from several other shoppers and cashiers.
Everyone commiserated about how terrible it was she would be missing that money, especially given that she already looked so anxious. My cashier sighed, noting how her clearly rough day probably just got worse.
The couple scooped up the money, handing it to their cashier. The cashier stowed it beside her register and called over the service desk, explaining the situation and explaining it should be stowed behind the counter in case she returned. Surrounding customers agreed: They really hoped she’d return and notice the missing money soon.
It wasn’t a huge, sparkling moment of charity or humanity at its finest. It was just a group of Target shoppers anxious to get to their next stop in hectic schedules. It was just a group of people buying some random things on a Thursday afternoon.
Still, I smiled as I walked to my car, thinking about how it was in this small moment I realized there are still kind, well-meaning people in the world. How easily that couple could have sneakily swiped the wad of money off the floor without drawing attention to it. How easily someone nearby could have used the “finders keepers” adage to pocket the cash that sat abandoned within clear swiping range. How easily one of the many shoppers around could have claimed it as their own.
How easily things could have gone differently.
But they didn’t. A group of strangers at Target did the best they could to right a situation. It was more than that, though. They also showed empathy for a woman they didn’t even know.
They reminded me that it isn’t all a Golding-like world. Not everyone is out for the slaughter.
Some might not see it as a big deal, and, maybe in truth, it wasn’t. They did what they should have done, turning the money in. I don’t even know if it will ever be returned to its rightful owner.
However, this afternoon in the middle of Target, I was reminded that there are still kind people in the world. There are still people who do their best to do the right thing. In a world filled with news about people hurting others, it was refreshing to see the goodness in humanity, even if just for a brief moment.
Maybe it is the darkness in the world that made this moment so much bigger. Maybe I was just reaching for a thread of optimism, a small reason to not give up on our world just yet.
Regardless, in the middle of Target, I found a small reminder that beauty, kindness, and goodness are around—you just have to be looking.
Tomorrow, instead of focusing on the doom and gloom, maybe I’ll search a little harder for the overlooked goodness in those around me.
Maybe, in truth, that’s the challenge we all need to accept to make the world a little less dreary.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing. Learn more about her eight novels at www.lindsaydetwiler.com.