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'Have a nice day'

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By Michael O'Hare
Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

The receipt that the gas pump rolled out told me to “have a nice day.”

Even a gas pump can be kind, I guess.

Marlene Colville of Kittanning sent me this poem that was written in 1995 and published in 1996. I like it and it is what brought me to this Meandering, so here is the poem:

I See A Time

I see a time where fears are great,

Wherever you turn less love, more hate,

Mankind suffers and kills his own

In a faithless world, no mercy shown,

I see a time, where love is almost silent.

Without reasons, without answers,

Lost and searching we stumble through,

A world in mayhem Godless faces,

Children lost, some spared, so few,

I see a time, where love is almost silent.

No one knows what lies ahead,

How many tears must there be shed,

How many hearts must break before

We call out to God, “Please Lord no more!

I see a time, where love is almost silent.

Maybe somewhere another time,

We'll all know life of a different kind.

One that no longer destroys or cries

But binds us together, universal ties,

I see a time, where love is almost silent

Ms. Colville, I agree. We have all seen that time, too, when love is silent. And we hope for better.

I think that we can only act individually and hope that one small stone tossed in the stream will work toward creating a larger wave down stream, as limiting, daunting and frustrating as it may seem.

Put more simply but more eloquently by Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I have read that films and books and news accounts that show people taking altruistic action will spur others to do – or at least want to do – simple beneficial things.

It is that “pay-it-forward” kind of thing and it is worth our consideration.

Yet a day does not go by in which the majority of what we hear and see runs counter to the spread of love and understanding. It can be downright painful.

Young people are shooting other young people, neighbors are fighting neighbors, politicians speak harshly about one another and there is war and killing almost everywhere we look. This Tuesday was the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

Throughout my career in the newspaper business, I have heard the complaint that all that gets coverage is the bad news, and I would always respond that there is plenty of good news being covered. It is just that it is the bad news that is the anomaly and hence the “news.”

Some cynically say “if it bleeds, it leads” and there is some truth in that, and so the good news is found in secondary positions in the newspapers, the magazines, the TV broadcast.

But news reports, books, films and the like are NOT reality, much as we might think (or fear) they are.

The reality is in this current moment and how you talk and work and play with the people nearest you, even those who might otherwise trouble you.

It is the only place we can start that ripple of change. We cannot control how far efforts to act in peace and love will flow.

Hold a door for someone, help somebody pickup what he or she has dropped, give way to the other driver at an intersection, hug your children and grandchildren, offer encouragement. Take action where we can.

And then, learn from the guru inside the gas pump and “have a nice day.”

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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