Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pep Talk: "The Common Good"

It was a chamber of commerce fall Saturday in the Mile High City. While walking home from a morning workout at the neighborhood gym, I was lucky to strike up a conversation with an elderly man out walking his dog. “The dog’s name is Buddy. He’s 10 years old and slowing down a bit,” the wiry gent suggested. “Kinda like me, I’m 90 years old, can’t see, or hear, worth a damn but still feel pretty good.” He looked good too. I know people much younger who look much older.

We had a great chat in our ten minutes together. I learned Dick Foster was a veteran. He served in World War II as a Navy fighter pilot. “I was all ready to fight, then we dropped the atomic bomb and they told our aircraft carrier to turn around and head back home.” 

The conversation then switched to golf and the 2012 Ryder Cup matches and shared adoration for the teamwork displayed by the golfers and patriotism exhibited by the fans. “I love watching our American pro golfers encouraging each other and the fans going crazy chanting USA....USA....USA!”

The Nonagenarian’s enthusiasm was infectious. Canine companion Buddy began to bark and wag his tail vigorously while I began to remember other recent reminders of the power of like-minded people coming together for the common good.

I told the Denver native about another guy devoted to bringing others together for the common good, Kiwanis International Rocky Mountain District Governor Jack Schwartz. “I believe in proceeding until apprehended,” says the Montana native determined to transform a century-old organization that, like most service groups, struggles to attract younger members these days. “Our average age is 65-years-old. Kiwanis needs to adapt its strategy and spend less time meeting and more time doing in our mission to change the world one child and one community at a time.” 

We were nearing my new-found friend’s Cherry Creek North residence but I still had time to share one more story about like-minded folks coming together for the common good. Former University of Colorado football players featured in an inspirational video imploring the current Buffaloes to not lose heart despite a disappointing start to their season. The video displayed grown men crying recalling the hard work and sacrifice, but great satisfaction, derived from fighting, in their Buff years, to the finish and the joy of singing the school fight song after every victory. I had the honor of introducing the video at a recent CU pep rally. Foster smiled broadly at that story, “I love the Buffs.”

It was time to say goodbye. We agreed to try and meet soon at a nearby coffee shop and continue conversing. Elder man and his best friend went one way, I another, with something pounding in my heart: the importance, and power, of rallying with others and pouring heart and soul into endeavors benefiting the common good. 

This week, let’s search our hearts, find a cause, find a group and find the resolve to serve - home, work and elsewhere. It will require, in some combination, sacrifice of time, talent and treasure. That’s okay. Even if we don’t live to be a Nonagenarian like Foster, whenever we exit we’ll know we’ve lived well for the common good.


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