The mind reels at the staggering display of inhumanity towards others playing out right now. What’s even more astounding is that you probably have to stop and ask yourself: to which situation am I referring. There are, sadly, so many options.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

I could be speaking about U.S. troops being forced to abandon our Kurdish allies – or the heart-wrenching bloodshed which has followed. I could be speaking about the bright and promising 28-year-old pre-med student shot dead in her own home by police while she played video games with her nephew.

I could be speaking about the reality that right now, the highest court in the land is actually debating whether someone may be fired simply for being who they are. Not for incompetence or inappropriate behavior, but for who they are.

I could be speaking about how as our wonderful state begins facing some tough historical truths and seeks a new way forward by celebrating Indigenous People’s Day, one mayor seems to feel the hate so deeply he dragged his city backwards.

I could be speaking about so many things. What seems to me to be at the very core of all this awful that’s been in the news is a fundamental inability to see another as a fellow being. I can’t imagine that anyone, if they truly saw the harm of their hate, could keep going.

So rather than speak of those things where I see the collective “us” getting it wrong, I want to give a shout out to one small example of getting it right. Really.

A cafe in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is stepping up. Have you read about this? I think it’s genius. Customers at this cafe (and from the photos, it looks straight-up classic lunch spot), can choose to “pay it forward” in the form of a meal. In addition to their own meal, they tack on the price of a second one. Cheeseburger and fries seems to be the standard choice. This meal is then written up on an order ticket and tacked to a corkboard with a simple message: Those who are hungry and in need may take one. Boom. Done. Person gets fed, cafe gets paid, generous diner gets to feel great.

Now, granted, in a perfect world, everyone would be fed and housed without needing these measures. But isn’t it wonderful that in the face of need and hunger, rather than turn away or wait for grant funding to support a new shelter, or for our leaders to pay attention to the pressing needs in our communities, one proactive, thoughtful cafe just took a shot at a fix.

It might not have worked. In fact, who knows, as time ticks on, it might begin to wear and break down. Anything is possible. But the fact that someone saw a need, took some time, thought about it, and took a shot … this I find heartening. This is worth celebrating. And, at least in the moment, it is working. Maybe it inspires others? Maybe it sparks new and exciting conversations? Maybe it sparks a movement? But if nothing else, it has offered up a moment of people seeing each other as fellow beings. Fellow beings deserving of care and compassion.

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