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I’ll follow my neighbor’s example

There are good people in this world, plenty in fact. One such good person saw an injured jogger hobbling alongside a rural Lincoln County road recently, and decided to help.

He didn’t have to stop his truck and turn around. But he did.

He didn’t have to offer the jogger a ride home. But he did.

That jogger was my wife. She took a spill while trying to get some exercise earlier this week and found herself limping along the road. Her ankle was already swelling. Her knees were bloody.

A good neighbor assessed the situation and decided she needed help. And I am thankful he did.

I often wonder if acts of kindness like this happen in other places, or if Southerners are more sensitive to the needs around them. The stats on generosity tend to support the theory that we are more generous than people elsewhere. Mississippi is one of the poorest states but one of the most generous when it comes to donations to churches and charities.

I would hope anyone would stop to help someone who is obviously injured on the side of the road, but more than one car passed without stopping to help my wife.

Maybe they didn’t notice. Maybe they just didn’t care. Maybe the struggle of a fellow human simply didn’t move them.

While I want to be angry at them for not stopping to help, I realize I am sometimes no better. How many times have I seen a homeless person under the overpass and kept on driving? How many times have I been behind someone in the checkout line who can’t afford their groceries, and just smiled when they had to tell the cashier “just put it back.” How many times have I ignored the hurting and the helpless?

They may not have been bloody on the side of the road, but their need was just as great — and just as obvious.

There have been times I have helped, but not nearly enough. More often than not, I convince myself that they don’t really need my help, or that someone else will help them, or that they aren’t deserving of my help.

This time of year forces me to take a harsh look in the mirror when it comes to charity. While I like to think I’m a generous giver, I often fall short. I hoard my possessions, my money, my time, my energy. And as often as I commit to doing better, I fail at that very thing.

Not long ago, my family decided to help out a struggling single mother. My wife set out to be generous, to provide anything she needed that we could offer. But I did not. I wasn’t happy about giving her our second refrigerator, but I did it. I helped deliver some furniture to her, but I wasn’t joyful about it. In general, I was a Scrooge who did just enough to avoid the scorn of others.

But my wife’s spill on the side of the road has given me a new perspective on helping others. Whether it’s money, time, a refrigerator or a ride home, I will follow the example of my neighbor. I’ll give.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.