Three “Goodwill” samplers here: characters in a book, people at a public park, and a single individual from the 20th Century.
The Book. Late last night I caught the final chapter of a BBC ‘made for radio’ reading of “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zuzak. It’s the story of a young non-Jewish girl in Germany, in the years leading up to, and including, WWII. She, her foster household, and people of her neighborhood experience ‘living on the edge’ of Nazi-machine realities. The narrator, also a principal character, is ‘outside’ these lives – narration is by Death itself.
Find a good review by ‘Natasha’ here. Natasha comments in her review that the book is incorrectly restricted in its ‘for youth’ category. BBC’s airing also slotted the book into children’s programming. Natasha, her blog readers, and other reviewers agree. So do I – this is a fine book for adults!
(I checked, regardless of category, it’s not available as a BBC podcast due to ‘rights restrictions’. I’d caught the two previous chapter broadcasts, and was so pleased to catch the closing!)
The Book Thief characters are pure humanity (goodwill) expressing itself in an unspeakably difficult time. As I heard the unfolding story, I was grateful for the story’s moving reminder of a truth about “who we are”.
Re-mind, re-mind, re-mind! The word suggests there is something we’ve forgotten, something we may have parked in the nether-reaches of our awareness, something valuable, something to bring forward and into day-to-day consciousness.
I write this post to remind myself, and all of us, about our innate urge to express good will to one another.
My post title, “Hunting and Finding Profound Goodwill”, doesn’t actually spring from the movie Good Will Hunting. I used a variation on the film’s title when I realized a personal experience of mine can be linked to ‘hunting and finding goodwill’.
The People at a Public Park. Not long ago, I began to take morning walks on a local community walking path along a river. Because of the path’s many southern and eastern exposures, the sun’s warmth is especially wonderful. The sun brings the day’s newness; it’s healing effect seems to touch everyone met along the path, (many of us walking dogs).
There’s one set of people who are regulars. This is a group of disenfranchised and deeply impoverished adults, some might think “derelict”. They often sit at one of the rest-stop picnic tables along the path. As regulars, they are as much a ‘fixture’ as is the path, the tables, and the sun-warmed morning air. Their unfailing cheerful graciousness adds a perfect human dimension to the path’s experience.
My walks always include cordial greetings with the group. By my third morning’s walk I’d begun to mentally refer to these regulars as “Good Will Keepers”. The ‘label’ ‘popped to mind’ to fit my conscious appreciation of these brothers and sisters. (I remembered the movie title as an afterthought!)
Bodies and faces of the Goodwill Keepers show some of the difficulties of their lives, (as does mine!) I am not a blind romantic. I know at other moments, these people, like all of us, like me, may not ‘exude goodwill’.
My point is: they are among the most reliable “goodwill holders” to be found. No agendas beyond expression and exchange of goodwill.
“No agendas” is most important in the moments of goodwill centered in these folks. They’re not caught by the same level of time-consuming errands capturing others of our society. If there is a group of people who practice, perhaps have been driven to practice, “lily of the field lifestyles”, it may be these treasurable models of humanity “no longer driven by agenda”.
Wakefulness? I have found these Goodwill Keepers knowledgeable of assorted topics; cordially willing to share a few comments, to display interest and curiosity, facts and speculation, about life generally, and about nature. They do not share from the point of view of “sages”, but simply, with simple – well, with simple and basic good will.
Modesty mixed with compassion? Yes, remarkably natural, spontaneous, absolutely no frills. Plain, unadorned, goodwill. Goodwill delivered as “an exchange”. Neither offered nor received as a “must do” social convention.
As I said, for all I know this same goodwill, which seems so natural during these sun walks, may not be the 24-hour life-approach of these Keepers. It’s certainly not true for me. But their role is sufficient during the times we share our exchange. It serves. And, in the “now moment,” it is very, very, real.
I admitted above, this post IS agenda driven! I want to remind us about innate goodwill. I not only ‘think’, I KNOW, that we humans have yet to understand potential in our deep-level caring for ourselves, for one another. We have yet to use our innate urge toward Goodwill to guide ourselves in sharing resources, including access to shelter, food, water, education, and health care. We have yet to allow our innate Goodwill to greatly and deeply influence our economic/social policy, especially at national and global levels.
We have yet to ask, even demand, that our policy makers exhibit this innate urge as a primary guide and motivating factor. We have yet to insist that “conventional success agendas” be toned down, set aside, in favor of greater genuine support of ourselves and one another within our human family.
An Individual of the 20th Century. Finally, to help link the goodwill demonstrated by characters in Zuzak’s “The Book Thief” story, with the goodwill demonstrated by the group in the park, I share a favorite photo, and a re-minder, of Irena Sendler. The photo is widely available on-line. Comprehensive information on this remarkable woman, details of her extreme personal risk to successfully save Jewish children during WWII, and access to the foundation based on her work, is found at Life in a Jar – The Irena Sendler Project.
Irena was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her remarkable courage and action that saved Jewish children during WWII. I love this photo! Irena Sendler’s face shows the brightest eyes and most shining countenance I may ever have seen in a photo of a human face! To me, the photo clearly shows “the human heart of Goodwill”, in all its radiance, and without agenda.
This could be a photo of anyone, of any time, race, gender, age. It could be a photo of one of the Goodwill Keepers I meet during my walks.
The compassionate portion of innate, human, spontaneous, heart-knowing: Goodwill: known, practiced, sought, found, shared, experienced.
(Note – the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Al Gore and the Inner Governmental Panel on Climate Change; a choice was made, a weighing of priorities. The core Goodwill impulse lying at the heart of care (and action) for all life, and the globe on which it thrives, was side-stepped; Al Gore received the award. I’ve long been a dedicated ‘earth-care’ person, but I’m disappointed in this particular decision.)
My best! –MaggieAnn