Recently, I read a letter to the editor in another paper that brightened my day, despite the sad subject matter.
The letter was from a woman named Lynn Ogden of Buffalo. In her letter she described what she did after coming upon an injured cat by the side of the road.
Now, some people will say that doesn’t sound like much of a day-brightener.
And, I know there are some people out there who seem to think the only good cat is a dead one, and those people won’t care regardless of the outcome.
But, if my readers will indulge me for a moment, I will explain why a tragic story makes me happy, and why it is important.
Ogden was driving on Highway 25 when she passed a black and white cat on the side of the road.
It was rolling around and appeared to be injured.
The easy thing to do would have been to keep driving, but Ogden went back to see what she could do to help.
The cat had been hit by a car and was badly injured. It was bleeding and could hardly move.
Ogden took a towel from the trunk of her car and carefully picked the animal up and put it in her vehicle.
She then called the local veterinary clinic, but it was closed.
She was unable to find out who owned the cat, so she decided to take the animal to the emergency animal clinic in St. Cloud.
All the way there she kept petting the cat and talking to it, trying to keep it calm.
Despite all that Ogden did to try to help, the animal’s injuries were too severe, and it did not survive.
Ogden’s final act of compassion was to write a letter to the editor so that if there were people out there wondering what had happened to the cat, they would know that it had been cared for and did not die alone by the side of the road.
What can we learn from all this?
When confronted by a creature who was suffering, Ogden stopped and went back, when she could easily have kept going.
She put an injured and bleeding animal that she had never seen before in her car, when no one would have blamed her for choosing not to do so.
Then, she took it upon herself to do whatever she could to get the animal care, or at least put it humanely out of its misery, all the while showing the frightened animal kindness.
Some, who are more cynical than I, will say Ogden wasted her time, and it didn’t make any difference in the end.
I don’t believe that is true.
It seems to me that showing compassion and caring for other living creatures is a good thing.
I get tired these days when I listen to the news, and I think a lot of other people do, too.
There are so many negative stories about partisan conflicts and people looking out only for themselves.
The news is packed with stories about people who swindle, cheat, or attack others with no regard for their fellow man.
I read a story recently about a despicable character who cheated his dying mother out of everything she owned, and left her thousands of dollars in debt.
Often, it seems like people have lost the ability to even have a civil discussion with those with whom they disagree.
I don’t see how we are ever going to solve our problems, and we have plenty of them, if we can’t even talk to one another.
I know there are good people out there. We don’t always hear about them, and we should.
The cat died, but the point is that Ogden made the effort.
Despite the odds, and despite all of the excuses she could have made for just minding her own business and driving on, she stayed and helped a fellow creature when there was no possible gain in it for her.
As long as there are people out there who show that kind of compassion, there is hope for all of us.
Governments don’t fix problems. They never have. It takes people, private individuals working alone or in small groups and often in the face of overwhelming opposition, to change things.
If we make the decision to discuss rather than attack, to ask instead of accusing, and to work together rather than blindly opposing other ideas, we may make a difference.