Downey-Florence Seventh-day Adventist Church
by Bill Aumack
The Latest Word
I woke up Sunday morning and plopped down at the computer to check the news. It didn't take me long to find out that Charles Schultz, the Peanuts creator, died in his sleep. Somehow a gray, drizzly morning just got darker. Sigh…
I sat there for a few moments wondering why the death of man I never met was affecting me so deeply. Sure I was a Peanuts fan. Who isn't? It is un-American to not be a Peanuts fan! But it seemed weird to have such strong feelings about it. I mean, let's get a grip, it's ink on paper, not real people. But that didn't help, the empty feeling was still there.
Maybe that empty feeling is because I am selfish. See, I am not just a Peanuts fan, I am a Snoopy fan. In high school Snoopy was all the rage and I had my fair share of Snoopy T-shirts. I was especially fond of Snoopy as Joe Cool, owning several different variations. Was the empty feeling just because I wouldn't be able to get my daily fix of Snoopy? No. Was the fact that Snoopy would never do his dance, The Beagle, again the issue? No, that doesn't seem to be it. Was it the fact that Charlie Brown (named after Charles' art teacher) would never get to kick the football? No - although that's a major disappointment. Is it because Linus will never get to see the Great Pumpkin? No. Maybe because Charlie Brown will never get a Valentine from the Little Red Headed Girl? No. I just couldn't put my finger on it. But, I couldn't shake the empty feeling or the thought that it seemed appropriate that Charlie Brown died on a rainy day - he always hated the rain.
A few days later it dawned on me why the empty feeling was there. There is hope in Peanuts cartoons. Charlie Brown is always hopeful that the Little Red Head Girl will send a love letter or that this time he will kick the ball. Snoopy is always sure there will be suppertime and he will get to dance. Linus can quote Bible texts to soothe your soul. Lucy, for all her touchiness, is concerned about her pals. I could go on, but you get the idea. No matter what bad thing happens, there is always hope that next time it will be better. When one of the gang is down, the others rally around to help. It's a wonderful model that my children will never get to see.
Aahh, that's it!! The empty feeling is because somehow a little hope and goodness was gone from the world. Something that future generations will miss. Who is modeling this type of hope and goodness for today's young people? Where will they learn about this?
Then I read a story in the Feb. 15 LA Times about the Ripple Effect of Everyday Kindness by Sandy Banks (Southern California Living Section). Seems there is a Security Guard at the Torrance Social Security office that is one outstanding person. His name is Anthony Williams. He is kind, courteous, helpful, early to work and a bunch of other characteristics- every single day. I don't know about you, but many times it is easy to not have the best attitude at work (or around the house). It is too easy to get caught up in the mundane drone of life. But not Anthony.
I won't try to repeat all the wonderful things people had to say about him. You should really read the article (maybe I will post it on the bulletin board). But he made a comment that made me stop and think. "What if you knew you could lighten somebody's burden just by doing the best job you can?" Hhhmmm, good question. What if…
Maybe I shouldn't be relying on Snoopy and Charlie Brown to model hope and goodness to society. Maybe a real person would have even more impact than a cartoon character. Not the world's most profound thought, but sometimes great ideas grow slowly. Anthony sure has made an impact. I wonder if people would be so eager to say good things about my behavior and attitude. Now that's a sobering thought.
So the real question is, do we model what Jesus taught us or do we wait for another Charles Schultz to come along and do it for us? As Christians we have the ultimate model. We don't need cartoon characters to teach us about hope. Are we reflecting Jesus' character or our own messed up lives? When people come in contact with us, will they be glad they met us - even if it is just for a second?
I am still going to miss Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the whole gang. But hopefully I am a better person and have learned from Charles Schultz that I can model to others what hope and goodness is all about.
I bet Anthony reads Peanuts.
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