Saturday, July 17, 2010

Odds Are

An asteroid named 2002 NT7 was discovered on July 9. Using science and physics, which is well beyond my little brain, scientists currently give it a 1 in 200,000 chance of striking the earth on Feb 1, 2019. The odds will grow larger as more data is gathered. The power of such an asteroid is estimated as the equivalent of three hydrogen bombs.

A young man stood in front of a tank and the world was awakened. A small boy saluted as his father’s casket, drawn by black horses and decorated in honor of a fallen president, and the world wept. A young prince left the walls of his castle to seek enlightenment not for himself but for all, and the world discovered unity and hope. A pilot pressed a button dropping the first nuclear bomb to end the bloodshed of thousands and the world knew fear. A man said freedom and justice can be achieved without violence and an empire was brought to its knees. A family without income is given food and clothing. When the tides of fortune turn, they start a chain of hope whose links are made of families who receive and then give. When you consider odds not one of these would have garnered any bets as to their impact. And yet, here they stand, immortalized and life changing on a global and individual scale. Their impact, then and throughout the ripples of time, had and have the potential to far exceed the devastation of three hydrogen bombs … without destruction.

Can we truly appreciate the consuming healing power of a simple hello to one unable to ask for help? Can we visualize the obliteration of emotional walls of hopelessness with a simple whisper of “you’re not alone”? Can the mind truly grasp the tsunami force, that pounds to nothing the heart’s despair of darkness, from the gentle brushing of one hand against another to say “I’m here” or “I love you”? History books and late breaking news will not carry these simple acts. What if one by one we repeat, link and move in these acts? What if we were to strike our individual Arthurian swords in the ground and say “from this day hence”? Maybe history would write of a far better Camelot that beat the odds.

When I ponder the time, effort and vigilant gathering of “data” that will surround 2002 NT7, versus the simple act of noticing these tiny acts of kindness and their repercussions, I am overwhelmed with the disparity. The attention given to something with the odds of 1 in 200,000 (and growing) versus the odds of an immediate response and impact is amazing. Should scientists study phenomenon like asteroids hitting the earth? I’ll offer a yes just because I have a simple mind. But I would also offer that the numbers of non scientists, us, far outnumber the scientists. What if we became as vigilant, vocal and attentive as them, in these simple collisions of human kindness upon another human being? What are the odds our ‘work’ would make a difference?

Frankly, I’m miffed, that on my sixty fifth birthday, there are odds of 1 in 200,000 that destruction “could” take place. And yet my heart melts in overflowing gratitude, that there are different odds, even better odds that exist. Odds that in acting upon, carrying forward and believing in the power of a simple hello or a gentle whisper, that on my sixty fifth birthday, the world around me, might be a better place. Odds are I will not be so strong every day. I’m still seeking, finding my own voice and learning. Odds are, if I try, I’ll eventually get there. I like those odds better.