“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
The world is full of ordinary, wonderful people.
Ever since I learned about Randy Stang in Regina Brett’s Plain Dealer column his example of casual grace has helped me see greatness in a new way. Those who bring out the best in themselves have a way of doing that.
Most people who get media attention are nothing like us. They’re obnoxiously wealthy, phenomenally talented or otherwise good at accumulating fame.
A great deal of publicity is also devoted to those who bring out the worst in themselves. They commit crimes or wreak havoc more acceptably, perhaps as scornful political pundits.
Occasionally attention shines on people who devote themselves to a cause in ways we can’t imagine doing or who risk their lives to save a stranger. True heroes. We may marvel at their efforts but end up feeling worse about our own choices. Who can imagine sacrificing as these selfless people do?
But Randy Stang was not the sort of man who attracted attention. He lived with his family right by Bradley Park in Bay Village, Ohio. Tall lights lit up his yard till late at night. Enthusiastic yelling from nearby soccer, basketball and baseball games made for a noisy home. When Randy Stang heard about a proposed biking and skateboard park he decided to attend the public hearing. So did many of his neighbors.
He waited for his chance to talk holding three pages of notes. A middle school teacher spoke about the six years of resistance the skate park had already faced, saying Bradley Park was likely the last hope for local bikers and skateboarders. Residents also spoke, saying the noise and inconvenience of a skate park was unacceptable. They liked the idea of teens gathering somewhere but preferred that place be far from their backyards.
Finally it was Randy Stang’s turn to talk. He explained what it was like to live near the park. He mentioned the noise and lights. He noted that his garage had been broken into just two days before the public hearing. Then he gave his opinion.
“I’m in favor of a skate and bike park in Bay Village in Bradley Park. I am wondering if the citizens against the park have no grandchildren, no children, or are not a child themselves.”
He finished, saying, “You want to put it just to the north of that baseball diamond there, probably about 50 feet from my yard.”
Then Randy Stang collapsed. A nurse and doctor performed CPR to no avail. But his efforts were not in vain. It looks like Bay Village will be building The Stang Memorial Skate and Bike Park.
People who are acclaimed every day in the media don’t exemplify us. It’s the uncelebrated lives of ordinary, wonderful people who form the bedrock of human existence. These people are next to you and across the world. Chances are they won’t gain notice unless they perish dramatically while simply being themselves.
Unselfish acts performed a million times a minute weave us together as a caring species. We tend to the helpless, comfort the sorrowful, share knowledge and create happiness. It happens most often in small, unnoticed ways. This is why I know humanity has every hope of skating ahead toward the very best possibilities.
*Creative Commons photo collage