What is it you hear every day when you turn on the news? It’s definitely not about people helping people. Wouldn’t it be enlivening to turn on the news this evening and hear only great stories about just that – people helping and caring about other people? There are so many tragic events to report, that we are forced to get our “uplifting stories” from somewhere else other than the 5:00 news. In this writing I am going to tell you three such stories that will warm your heart and make your faith in mankind swell as if it were a hot air balloon being readied for flight.
First story: An anthropologist had been doing research in a foreign village. As he waited for a ride to pick him up to take him to the airport for his return home, he decided to create a game for the children to play that were nearby. He placed a basket of fruit and candy beneath a tree and then instructed the children that the first one to the basket could have the goodies.
“Get ready, get set, RUN!” he called.
He was expecting them to all take off as fast as they could, but to his surprise, they did not. Instead, they joined hands and ran together to the tree.
“Why did you choose to run as a group, rather than each of you running for the prize?” he asked.
A small girl spoke up and said, “How could one of us be happy when all of the others are sad?”
From the mouth of babes.
The second story is about two men that occupied the same hospital room. They were both quite ill, but they became well acquainted and shared stories of their families, their military service, their favorite vacation spots, and whatever else came to mind. The fellow by the window was placed in an upright position each day for an hour to help his lungs drain the fluid that had accumulated in them. The other fellow had to lie on his back continually. It wasn’t long before this man complained of the boredom he felt in his situation. For that hour each day that the fellow by the window was sitting up, he began to describe the wonders outside his window – it overlooked a beautiful lake where the swans and ducks swam. Children raced their toy boats in a small bay and lovers walked hand in hand around the lake. Colorful flowers stretched around the edge of the lake and the cities majestic skyscrapers could be seen in the distance. The man lying flat on his back began to look forward to this hour each day when his friend would describe what he saw. He would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scenes as his roommate described them.
Days went by and the nurse came in one morning with basins of water to bathe her patients, only to find that the fellow by the window had died peacefully in his sleep. The other man mourned the death of his new friend and his exquisite stories he told each afternoon. Once the body of his friend had been removed, he asked the nurse if he could now occupy the space by the window and she immediately obliged him – shuffling the beds about. He was now strong enough to raise up and look outside for himself, but when he did so, the window faced a solid brick wall.
“Why would he tell me he saw such wonderful things, out this window?” he asked the nurse.
“Your roommate was blind and did not know there was a brick wall outside the window. His purpose was to encourage you.”
And the third story is recorded in the book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand – a WWII story of survival. Seven hundred emaciated and feeble POW’s occupied the Rokuroshi Japanese prison camp. Many of these men had been prisoners of war for years. Conditions were horrendous with little food and many beatings. If they had been there any time at all, these men were made up of merely bones with skin to cover them. So great was the oppression that all these men really had were each other.
The soldiers in the camp were purposely kept from learning of the wars progression. One day all 700 of them were invited to bathe in the Hokura River which they found very odd. They weren’t about to argue about it as they dropped their clothes and waded in. Once they were all in this vulnerable spot – they heard it – the growl of an aircraft engine – huge, low, and coming straight at them. There was no mistake it was a tornado bomber. It didn’t take much of an imagination to know they had been placed as an easy and vulnerable target. But then…wait…with the bomber right over them they could see a broad white star in a blue circle! It was an American plane. The plane’s red code light was blinking rapidly. A radioman in the water read the signals and cried out, “The war is over!”
The plane turned loops above the men, and the pilot waved to them. Something flitted out of the cockpit and landed near one of the soldiers. Picking it up, he found a chocolate candy bar with a bite already taken out of it. It would have been easy for this soldier to claim the prize and gulp down the savoring sweetness, but he didn’t. Instead he sliced the candy bar into seven hundred slivers. Each one of the prisoners licked a finger, dabbed it on his bit of chocolate, and put it in his mouth.
Ready to hop in and take that hot air balloon ride? Until next month, “keep on readin’ and I’ll keep on writin’.