Friday, November 2, 2012

The power of honey over vinegar


What a week! Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc across the east coast before moving inland to shed her fury further west. It was a frightening time for us here in Pittsburgh, yet somehow we were spared. My heart breaks for all those who were not so blessed. Thousands upon thousands were affected by this storm and its devastation. Some lost their homes. Some their businesses. And others, the worst situation possible... they lost their loved ones. While they're talking about damage in the billions of dollars range, for me, it is unfathomable to consider the cost of human life. If you happen to be one of the people affected in any way by this volatile storm, please know that my thoughts, my prayers and my love go out to you. I'd love to hear your story. If you'd to share it, please email me

Photo by Petr Kratochvil
There is an old saying -- You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And that's what I want to write about on this particular Vinegar Friday. It is the Friday before the election in the United States, and I thought it would be an appropriate time to write about kindness. Amidst all the political bickering, I sometimes wonder if kindness has gone the route of common sense and is rotting away in a grave somewhere.

But then I come across a photo on Facebook of a gate in front of a home in New Jersey. Dangling in front of the gate are power strips beside a sign that reads, "We have power. Please feel free to charge your phone." 

I was scrolling through the comments on this picture and saw this comment:

Jason Cook Where's the food and water?!
Jason, I don't know who you are, but would like to have a little chat with you (pardon me while I take Jason aside). "Where's the food and water?" Really? Really? Did you really ask that question? Hmm. Some people are always looking for more. 
Are food and water essential? Of course. Is charging a cell phone essential? That depends. I certainly could live without mine for a few days. But I have a landline to communicate with my family and let them know I'm okay. And I'm not waiting to hear news from a missing relative or friend. Maybe someone who accepted this random act of kindness was. 
Regardless, this gate belongs to someone who cares. Maybe they don't have clean drinking water at this point. But they do have electricity. And God bless them for sharing it. Are they asking for anything in return? Apparently not. They are just being kind.
It's something worth trying, Jason. Kindness. But I do see your point. People need food and clean water. Of course they do. And for many of them, they also need a place to sleep. They need shelter. Some lost everything, so... they need everything. So if the power strip gate people offered food and water, sure enough, someone would come along and ask, "Where's the clothing? Where's a warm bed?" Since they can't offer all of that, perhaps they should pull in their power strips and forget about it. 
Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens time and time again. People or organizations are criticized for doing "too little," so they pull in their power strips and forget about it. 
Inevitably, someone will remove the honey and replace it with vinegar. The sweet for the sour. Kindness for meanness. 
Before you open your mouth to criticize a political candidate or someone who votes for him/her, think about the honey/vinegar equation. Think about the kind folks in New Jersey offering their electricity to those without. And think about Jason. Do you want people to think of you as honey or vinegar? On this particular Vinegar Friday, I'm opting for honey. I hope you will to.


  1. After Hurricane Sandy, my husband was shocked to see the damage and destruction that a hurricane could do. He has only heard of these things, but having recently moved to the midwest from the middle east - he is discovering so many things. As he watched, and listened, he was heartened to find that many were willing to give and share - whether they had much or not. He was glad to see that people were willing to share what they could - and yes in this case electricity to charge a cell phone - to let family know you are well is very important. He had several friends he could not contact for a couple of weeks - as they had no power. So, he like others, worried until he received word that they were ok. Food and water are important too, and I am sure they were shared as well, but not reported.

    1. It's important to share stories of the goodness and generosity of people... it keeps us from becoming jaded, don't you think?


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