Yesterday I read a story about a man who saved the farms of three Japanese-American families who were interned during World War II. He recently passed away at the age of 101 and, before that, was honored for his role in supporting these families while they were being unfairly and indiscriminately relocated and imprisoned. Basically, he just decided to be a decent person while other people around him were being incredibly undecent.
When one of Bob’s neighbors learned they would be forced out of their homes, he reached out to Bob and asked if he would help two friends in exchange for all the farms’ profits. Bob agreed, quit his job, and began taking care of all three farms. He kept a portion of the profits, but saved half for the families—filling their bank accounts while they were away. Bob’s other neighbors weren’t so happy that he was being kind, which just goes to show you that there have been and always will be jerks.
Many families lost their farms, businesses, and financial security after being interned. The three families that Bob helped came back to their homes, which is definitely something about which no one should need to boast. When Bob was honored for helping his neighbors, he said, “I don’t know about courage. It took a devil of a lot of work.” That seems to me to be the real way to help—just do the work. We don’t always need to think about being brave. We just need to think about doing the work of being considerate.
For me, this story serves as a reminder that we all have the ability, the responsibility, to be thoughtful and useful to one another. Bob could have walked in protests lines. He could have sent letters to his representatives. He could have posted messages on Facebook. JK, he couldn’t have done that. It was 1942. But he didn’t just talk about it. Instead, he responded to his neighbors call for help—an actual response to an actual call. He stepped in where he was needed. He didn’t save every farm in his state, but he helped who he could.
We can all learn a lesson in active support from Bob. Let’s not be frozen by a great need. Let’s get inspired to find those small acts of service. I don’t think I’ll use my green thumb to help anyone though. Last year I had thirteen pots full of lovely, CO2 giving flora. This year I have two left—home to a dying aloe and a wilting spider plant—a sad, sad homage to my love for all things green. Basically, I’m saying that we all have ways we can help one another and mine is probably not at the farm. But I could make cookies for a bake sale or poorly paint a wall or sit next to someone quietly.