If you watch the news, you might well be forgiven for believing our world is disintegrating, we are a nation of haters, vengeance-seekers and cold-blooded ideologues and extremists. That is false testimony, a great lie.
My post office box is its own media, a daily drumbeat of empathy, compassion, charity and good will. It is my news, and it is a beacon of light and decency and heart.
I got the kind of letter yesterday – just about every day – that makes me feel good about my life and where it is going, and about the world beyond me. I am hopeful and uplifted, despite what their news reports every day. Theirs is the fake news to me.
It is a special gift to drive down to the town post office, to see Wendy or Nancy, and get beautiful messages from people in every part of the country. Older people, younger people, red states, blue states, left and right.
People are so good, given the chance, i have my faith in them, not the people shouting on Facebook.. The letter was from Tammy, who lives in a small town in Michigan. Inside the envelope was a short slip of green lined paper with $10 neatly folded inside – a $5 dollar bill and five one dollar bills.
"Thank you for your blog…," Tammy wrote. It makes me have hope and smile…I wish I could do more!. I have triplets in their first year of college!"
Epictetus, the great Greek philosopher, had a Tammy in mind when he wrote "do not want for clappings of hands ands shouts of praise to be induced to do good, but be a doer of good voluntarily and you will be beloved as much as the sun."
It is this kind of note that melts the heart. The Army Of Good is not a wealthy army. The donations come in small denominations', much like Tammy's. Small checks of $5, $10, $20 dollars and envelopes with $10, even $5 dollars. The small donations add up, and we perform small acts of great kindness. There are larger donations as well, up to $500, even $1,000, they are precious, they are rare.
When I think of the trouble poor people go through to stuff a few dollars in an envelope and send them to me, I do want to bow my head in thanks. They really hit home and keep me going. It is my faith to do good.
Tammy's letter has much poignance and humility. She takes the trouble to send $10, and then apologizes for not sending more. Triplets in college at the same time?
Good lord, it is a miracle she can send anything at all. Over this past year, I have received tens of thousands of dollars, mostly in small amounts. We have done an incalculable amount of good, for the Mansion residents, for the refugee and immigrant families.
I treasure Tammy's $10, it went right to the special bank account the Mansion/Refugee account where all of the donations go, and from which I draw to buy clothes, books, shoes, groceries. This is new work for me, it is wonderful work, nothing has made me happier.
Thanks Tammy, I wish I had enough money to send some to you. I shudder to think of your bills, and am humbled you would reach into your heart and help people who are vulnerable. We are just getting going, here at World Headquarters of the Army Of Good, Bedlam Farm. Good news every day, you will never see it on CNN or Fox News.
You are an inspiration to me, you could easily complain and squawk about the pressures in your life, as so many people with smaller burdens do. Instead, you write me a note on a small piece of paper and carefully fold $10 inside of it with a note apologizing for not sending more.
You possess genuine empathy, blessed are the humble and the poor who can step outside of themselves and think of others.
Thanks Tammy. If anyone wishes to donate to the varied work of the Army Of Good, to the refugees and immigrants in need and peril, or the residents of the Mansion who remind us to love and care for our elders, you can donate in any amount to the Refugee Fund, c/o Jon Katz, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816, or via Paypal, [email protected]
You can support my work and also donate to support the blog by clicking the donation button at the bottom of every Farm Journal post. Thanks much.