Woodstock First Baptist Church offered its facilities for the project, an amazing sight of a 100-chair dentist office. At a time when many have lost jobs and dental insurance, and trips to their own dentist are on the bottom of to-do lists, this act of kindness was a miracle, a prayer answered, a nudge of encouragement, and perhaps an inspiration for others to go and do likewise with their individual talents.
We hear (occasionally only, amidst the babble of political talking heads) that we must help each other in these troubled times. I can quote Scripture here, but critics would accuse me of self-righteous, street-corner sermonizing. (There's Scripture about that as well.) I often think these days of that song I've always associated with the Great Depression, "Ain't We Got Fun." It was actually published in 1921 and was most popular during the Roaring '20s, when my favorite line was, "There's nothing surer, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
We all know what happened to many of "the rich" who got richer, and the poor were already as poor as they could get. Some of the lines I had never heard until I found lyrics online. "Streetcar seats are awful narrow, ain't we got fun? They won't smash up our Pierce Arrow, we ain't got none. They've cut my wages, but my income tax will be so much smaller. When I'm laid off, I'll be paid off. Ain't we got fun?"
It's hard to imagine folks had anything to laugh about back then, but there's healing in humor and in music, or so they say. It was a time of upheaval, differing from today in some ways, especially in the influence of technology. That's a word whose meaning changes with the times. I'm reminded of Jimmy Carter's description of a family's outdoor privy. He said the only difference in their privy and the privy at their neighbor's house was the number of holes. Translate that to today's plumbing and multiple bathrooms! Once again, everything is relative. There was little expense involved with that necessity during the '30s, but today there is a water bill with added expense of sewage ... the great equalizer.
The other event of last week was another great example of filling a need. It was a job fair, put together by Woodstock Lions at Chattahoochee Tech. Although service organizations are busier than ever in this slow economic period, there does not seem to be an increase in membership for such clubs. Organized volunteering opportunities are everywhere, oftentimes quite easy to fit into a schedule. And always, random acts of kindness - unplanned, unacknowledged, divine appointments perhaps - are occurring. Remember George H. W. Bush's Thousand Points of Light? They're still around, albeit with a different label. We should all be points of light.
I found one comment from a dental patient that caused a little pang of sadness. A lady was quoted as saying, "They should do this everyday." I want to let her know that they probably do, not collectively, but individually. And I want to know if she was kind to someone that day. What goes around comes around. This little verse says it all: "There is a destiny that makes us brothers. None goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own."
When we do good deeds, though, it's best to remember the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished." That's just the irony of life. You try to help somebody move, and you sprain your ankle. Or you help an accident victim, and they sue you for interfering. I ran over a neighbor's cat when I went to baby-sit for a friend. We all have these stories, but we seldom know the rest of the story. All we can do is do all we can do.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock's official historian and the former director of the Woodstock Public Library.