A Message Of Hope
I learned a lot about teenager, Casey Beaty, when we worked together on the Comanche cleanup. The guy is an extremely hard worker and while I’m sure he had a million and one complaints, he never voiced even one. That, however, was not what impressed me about Casey. No, what impressed me the most was something else, something that I seldom see in anyone today, especially young people.
Casey didn’t know it, but I was watching, and every single time someone came into his line of vision, he was off like a flash, asking if he could help. I’ve really never seen anything like the way he simply refused to let anyone lift, unload, etc. without literally running to them and jumping in to help. I’m telling you, it was impressive, and it is a trait that will carry him far one day! We were hot, we were filthy, and we were thirsty most of the time, but Casey never once stopped helping the others who were working just as hard as we were.
After it was all over, I asked Casey what he had learned from the experience.
“I learned once again that some people are less fortunate than others. I also learned that there are people who live very differently than others. Their houses and yards are filthy, with trash and junk everywhere…”
When he trailed off, I prodded for more, asking if there was a lesson to be learned there.
“I learned that bad decisions like drugs and alcohol and dropping out of school affect who we eventually become, and I learned that there are a lot of people who obviously were not taught responsibility and discipline.”
Casey went on to say, “The decisions we make every single day can actually affect us long term.”
So how do we turn it around if he is correct?
“By taking responsibility for the past and accepting that they need to improve…”
Once again, he trailed off on a topic that was probably a little too difficult for a high school kid to really grasp.
“But what if they have no money?” I asked.
“We cleaned the yards of people who could have done their own work, and those people need to stop expecting others to do their work for them and have some pride in where they live. They may not have money to paint, etc., but they could certainly keep the trash picked up out of their yards.
“I can see that the price of one neighbor’s house will drop if another neighbor doesn’t do something to clean up his mess.”
“What should city do to fix the problem?” I asked.
“You can’t make a person change unless he wants to change, but you can have laws that make people clean it up.”
And then, I turned our conversation into a personal conversation because Casey was very correct. We did clean many yards for people who should have done their own work. We also cleaned yards for people whose bad decisions have caused them terrible problems. What Casey did not know was that I purposely chose the places where he worked. I wanted him to see people who truly needed our help, and I also wanted him to see those who were too lazy to take care of their own business.
“How are you going to avoid the pitfalls that caused a lot of the problems that we saw?”
“I’m gonna put responsibility before anything else by staying in school, getting an education, and keeping a steady job so that I can pay bills on time. I didn’t know a lot of places like that existed. I don’t know how people can drive up to their house every day and see that and be okay with it.”
And if that was the lesson that Casey Beaty took away from our many hours of brutal labor, it was all worthwhile. We got some places cleaned up, and we have a young person who has seen firsthand where he does not intend to go. That’s a win/win!
What a message of hope this is when a young person gets a grip on the reality of life.