The best of us

Do you ever meet someone and think, ‘Wow, I wish I was more like him/her?’

These are the people who inspire us to be someone better, those who go above and beyond for others, thinking of doing for those less fortunate – or just someone with a pure and giving heart. They are the best of us.

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I’ve written before about my mom, and she was one of those people. Taken by cancer far too soon, she was the person who taught me the kind of person I wanted to be – kind, loving, giving. I don’t know that I always succeed, but her example is something to reach for every day.

In a world where people sometimes seem to be overwhelming selfish and petty, there are those bright and shining examples of what we are capable of. It’s easy to get discouraged sometimes because it does seem the world has changed – just look at how our elected “leaders” act, with their bickering and absolute refusal to work with each other. It doesn’t matter your political party, the hatred and contempt leveled between people seems much more intense now than it did when I was a kid. It can be demoralizing, especially when you throw in those people who seem to make life a never-ending drama of negativity and strife. We all know them, we all deal with them – some of us are them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Because for all of those people there are others. Every time I get down (admittedly, not really that often), I seem to receive a gift – the message that there are truly extraordinary people in this world. This week, that message came in loud and clear in the form of two people – Cindy Baker and Jessica Adams.

Cindy Baker and I have become friends through the more than six years I’ve covered Canadian County District Attorney’s office. In watching the people who work there, it amazes me the strength and fortitude they have in dealing with the worst in human nature – the murders, the rapes, those who steal and lie and destroy. Amidst that there is Cindy, who gives all of her heart and soul to a job that’s clearly become much more than that to her.

Cindy is the victim coordinator assistant for Canadian County. It’s a fancy title for a very straightforward thing – she helps victims as they move through the criminal justice system and beyond. Cindy helps people get funding for and gives support to victims of violent crimes and their families. She is there for them in the darkest days of their lives. But Cindy doesn’t just do her job – she has become a beacon for people who are sometimes struggling simply to hold on.

I’ve been privileged to see Cindy in action for years. Attend a criminal hearing, and it’s a good bet she will be there, offering a hug, comfort and encouragement. She doesn’t do it for praise (although she’s received plenty) – it’s clear she does it because it’s the right thing to do. Monday night it was easy to see what a difference Cindy has made in countless peoples’ lives as they spoke of her guidance and her help and how they couldn’t have made it without her by their side. A simple candlelight vigil probably brought more solace to these people than countless other acts, but it’s her work – and her spirit – that makes a huge difference every single day. She’s the kind of person we should all strive to be.

That can be said for Jessica Adams, as well. A Mustang High School senior, Jessica is one of those people who is constantly looking for someone to help, something to do to make the world a better place. She does it selflessly and without seeking praise, and people gravitate toward her because she truly cares about others. It’s no act.

Look at the teenagers around you. Many of them are focused on their social lives, their friends, their cell phones. Video games are sometimes more important than real-life people. They’re not bad kids – they’re just kids, and there’s no faulting their attitudes. They are young and carefree, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Then there is Jessica. First, she’s working on the Polar Plunge, trying to help Special Olympics athletes. I watched her with those students – she loves them, and they her. She is able to look beyond their disabilities, some severe, and see the special person within. But, she doesn’t stop there. She’s taken the deepest of personal losses and turned it into a way to help even more people as she prepares for a survivors’ dinner for Friday’s Relay for Life. At her relatively young age Jessica instinctively looks for the best in people and life and, in doing so, she shows us the best we can also be.

As we move forward in a year that’s going by far too fast (it’s already April!), I know people like Cindy and Jessica have renewed for me what’s undoubtedly the best resolution any of us can make – to be a better person. To be more like them.

And that’s something worth striving for.



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