As I have gone through life, I have come appreciate the “ripple effect” and how interconnected the world is. Every action or choice impacts many other people around you and around them. Most of us know the analogy of throwing a rock in a placid lake, where even a small pebble will make ripples. These ripples spread and become weaker the further away from the center they get, but the ripples still continue to spread until they reach the shore and then they bounce back.
Life is like this. The difference between water’s ripples and life’s ripples is you can choose if your ripples are positive (and make the world a better place) or negative (and make the world worse).
A friend of mine had something horrible happen last week. His wife and two year old daughter were running an errand at noon on Friday when some guy on drugs slammed them from behind at a stop light. The jaws of life were needed to cut out the child. She was taken by air ambulance to Johns Hopkins where she’s fighting for life now after multiple brain surgeries. It looks like even if she survives, there may be permanent brain damage (all my love and prayers to little Ava and her family). This person made a selfish choice and a child will never be the same. Her sister, mom and dad will never enjoy life the same way. Another childhood friend of mine happened to be an EMT in the same area as the accident. I called him to see if he knew any details and he was a mess. He was with Ava in the air ambulance. He was already in counseling for the nightmares from another horrible child incident and seeing another baby this injured was tearing him apart. Ripple further out to me, and I’m having a hard time dealing with this. I keep picturing the pain of my friend, feeling completely helpless, and picturing what I would be like if it were my own little girl.
Here’s a recent update on Ava’s condition, plus more details on the man charged in the crash who was driving while impaired. The accused has driven under the influence numerous times. Police found drugs on him at the accident scene and back at his house. Yet still he remains a free man.
Then, I look at Bernie Fine’s accusers (the assistant coach of Syracuse who has been accused of abuse by multiple people). One of his accusers just pled guilty to abusing a child. If the Fine accusation is true, here is a terrible ripple again. Does anyone believe this would have happened if the young man was not abused himself as a child? Another generation damaged by someone’s selfish and malicious choices.
I have no tolerance left for people who intentionally put bad or evil ripples into the world. Some bad ripples are accidental. There are car accidents that are not malicious, but horrible things do happen – that’s just part of life. Intentional ripples are different; they are a purposeful choice. Intentional ripples could be as simple as throwing trash on the ground. It is a choice, and NOTHING good can come from it. It only makes the world a worse place. Why do it?
The good news is you can choose to send out good ripples. I love seeing the good in people. Things like the Layaway Angels sweeping the country this holiday season, paying for toys for families that cannot afford them. The people doing it get no credit, no glory. All they get are good ripples spreading out into the world. You can do it too, and it does not take money. It can be as simple as saying something nice to your spouse or co-worker.
A perfect example: I was about to post this blog and the doorbell rang. I answered the door and it was two little kids maybe six and seven with huge grins on their faces. They yelled “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” I asked them if they were just going around spreading holiday cheer trying to make everyone’s day a little brighter, and they said “Yes!” and ran off to the next door. It’s that simple.
So have a joyful holiday season and in this time of reflection, try to find a way to spread some good ripples in your own lives and the lives of those you love.