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WENDY HODGE

By WENDY HODGE

There’s been a shooting at a mall in Indiana. A Nascar driver was stabbed to death while getting gas at a filling station. Someone with a gun interrupted a stand-up comedy show in Philadelphia. A bomb threat cleared out a government building in San Antonio. And there’s a serial rapist on the loose in California.

It took me only three minutes to absorb today’s headlines. Three minutes to take in carnage and agony that will alter lives from today until the end of time.

And it happens every single day.

In college, I read sections of ‘Utopia’ by Thomas More, and I remember thinking how amazing it would be if the world could actually function that way. No greed, no poverty, no wars or crime. And, just as quickly, I dismissed the notion that it would ever work. People are people. We fight and hurt each other, we lie and steal. The only constant about humanity is that it is imperfect.

And yet …

There are more things happening in our world than those bold-print headlines would lead us to believe.

A teenager in Des Moines found a purse with $17,000 cash in it. And he returned it! The little old lady who’d lost her life savings was so thrilled, she gave him half the cash and a job in her family business.

Three motorcyclists happened to stop on a bridge to admire the view of a lake in Utah and heard the distant cries of a puppy stuck in a drainage ditch. They scrambled down and rescued it. And one of the men nursed it back to health and gave to a girl in his neighborhood who’d always wanted a dog.

A man walking home from his third-shift rotation at a factory in Wisconsin noticed smoke coming from someone’s upstairs window. Doorbell camera footage caught him racing to the front door and letting himself in — not to rob the place, but to climb the stairs and rescue the sleeping female and her two children. Turns out, the woman worked first shift at the same factory as her rescuer. They were neighbors and co-workers who may have never crossed paths if not for his selfless act of bravery.

A child prodigy, born with one arm, stepped up to bat in Cooperstown this past week and hit not one homerun, but two — straight out of the park! He was quoted as saying, “I just love baseball. I’m so grateful to get to play.”

A sixth-grader in Colorado, who has struggled with bullying for several years, brought home his yearbook. When his family saw that there were no signatures, they turned to social media to bring light to their boy’s struggles. An eleventh-grader saw the post and decided she wouldn’t rest until she did what she could to bring some compassion to this stranger. With her help, people all over the world have read this brave young boy’s story. He’s received thousands of encouraging messages … some from celebrities, most from ordinary people who’ve been bullied like he has.

Thanks to a TikTok video, a man in New Jersey went from homeless to food-truck owner in just 10 days. An organization whose mission is to help fund the business dreams of those with no means of their own, discovered a homeless man in a Walmart parking lot. “All I want,” he said, “is to cook for folks who are hungry like he me.” And now, he does just that.

A dog who wandered away from his home in Georgia during a Fourth of July fireworks celebration, was found over 900 miles away. He was scared, but he was healthy. When his owner was reunited with him, the dog wagged his tail and barked. And he smiled … an actual, ear-to-ear smile that was captured on video.

I have watched that video several dozen times and cried every single time.

And here, in our own city, there are people who give of their time, their money, their skills and their hearts. They give anonymously, and they give with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

If I could design a Utopia, there would be no homeless people or stray animals. There would be no house fires or bullies. Every child would be born with two arms and two legs and two parents who love them. We would never lose anything … not purses or pets or sweethearts. Every table would be weighed down with everyone’s favorite foods, and we’d all be welcome in each other’s homes.

In my ideal world, each city would need several newspapers to document all the sweet and genuinely good things that happen every day. With names like ‘The Daily Good’ and ‘Today’s Good Deeds,’ there would be no stories of murder or war or hatred. Only stories of kindness to strangers, stories of worldwide generosity and stories of love, and friendship and compassion would be printed.

Opelika would have nothing but lovely stories of its own, and I would sit, just me, and my old Remington and a dog at my feet, and tell them all.

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