Making a Difference Award for December 2022

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XX, Number 51 (Issue 1003) December 19, 2022

Making a Difference Award for December 2022

In a temporary departure from the new series entitled “Eight Questions,” it is wholly appropriate we speak to the spirit of this special season of the year. After all, when we hear so much about good will toward one another, it begs for us to examine what that good will might look like. Perhaps a reminder for some, a fresh thought for others, it is hoped that many will carry that thinking and those behaviors into 2023 and beyond. Imagine how wonderful it would be if such works became a year-round rather than seasonal thing. Don’t worry, I promise we will return to the current series in the new year. But for now, let us focus our thoughts on the holidays where two recurring themes are joy and peace on earth. Long sought if not fully achieved, at a minimum we should aim for things to be better if not perfect.

The unfortunate thing is the numerous shortfalls we experience compared to the ideal state we are inclined to imagine only adds to the stress we already feel. Sure, some stress can be a healthy thing. However, as most will agree, stress is predominantly a bad thing. There is the obvious and well documented toll of physical, mental, and emotional ailments tied to stress. Beyond that, there is the behavioral effect where stress causes most of us to become self-absorbed and inwardly focused. That is problematic because as soon as we become inwardly focused, it is nearly impossible for us to think or feel positively toward others. In fact, because we are inclined to want to tie others’ perceived failures and bad choices to the stress we are feeling, it is those same individuals who soon find themselves to be the target of our over-the-top reaction. Think about it. Rare is the day when we are the villain in our own story. Someone else must surely shoulder the blame.

Having opened with the interwoven themes of joy and good will while also acknowledging the stress we can feel this time of year, what I really want to do is recognize the largely anonymous group of caring, compassionate, and thoughtful souls who take a few moments to make the rest of us feel good about ourselves. I’m talking about the strangers who send a smile our way as they pass or who hold a door open for someone ladened with packages. Also, among this unheralded group are those who voluntarily come to the aid of a parent wrangling small children in a crowded store. Nor should we overlook those who generously cover the shortfall on someone’s grocery tab or who buy a stranger’s meal. There is another group of thoughtful individuals who, like my wife Sandy, pause

momentarily to compliment an attendant for their efforts in caring for the grounds or facilities at a highway rest stop, or similarly honor the good work of the individual bussing and cleaning tables at a restaurant. Every brief, albeit sincere compliment bestowed on someone reminds them of their worth. Having trouble visualizing that exchange? Then consider this: any time you and I are recognized for our work we feel both noticed and appreciated. Conversely, in the absence of such validation it is easy for us to feel invisible at best and disrespected at the extreme. Let us not pull punches. When a fellow human being feels disrespected, it adds to whatever stress they are already experiencing. From there, it is a short trip to an inappropriate and often disproportionate response to what they perceive to be the next slight.

The good news is you and I can prevent that fateful trip if only we will choose to share some good will. Imagine the joy we can bring to another individual. Now make it happen!

Soli Deo Gloria

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

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Copyright 2022 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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