“If it bleeds, it leads,” is an old expression that basically means that if there’s violence, destruction, or death involved it receives top billing on television news.
Unfortunately, negative news garners attention, attracts viewers, and improves ratings.
In fact, so much of the broadcast news today, both on network and cable TV is more commentary than news. It often reflects the political or social bias and the world view of the commentator or the network. And it’s often designed to fuel conflict, sow discord, and divide people.
However, there’s a lot of good news in the world, if we just look around our communities, churches, and even on social media.
Last week Carlos Whittaker, who bills himself as “an author, speaker, moment maker, spider killer, and hope dealer,” was passing through the Atlanta airport. While waiting to catch a connecting flight, he was captivated by 66-year-old Tonee “Valentine” Carter playing the piano near the Chick-fil-A.
“He’s just over there just going to town,” Whittaker told 11 Alive. “I was like, why is nobody paying attention?”
Moved by Carter’s energy, enthusiasm, and smile Whittaker went on his Instagram account and asked his 200,000 followers to chip in for a large tip.
Immediately people responded. $5, $10 and some even $20, the tips began rolling it. Before Whittaker left, he raised $10,000 to give Carter. By the time he landed in Nashville, the amount had risen to $20,000. Currently, it has exceeded $60,000.
Carter, who’s suffering from kidney failure and receives dialysis daily, was overwhelmed by people’s generosity. Choking back tears, he was stunned and accepted the tip in disbelief.
“I am responsible now,” Carter said. “That $60,000 is not mine. It’s money that’s going to go to others. There is only one way to say thank you because words are inadequate. And that is to pay this forward.”
“This guy, Carlos Whittaker, blew into my life like a tsunami,” Valentine said. “I was having a typical day at work, and now, I’ve been blessed by this man and his followers.”
This good news story reminds of several New Testament commands to Christians.
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (I Tim. 6:17-18).
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” Heb 13:15).
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10).
This story has several applications and lessons.
#1 It’s a vivid reminder that one person can make a difference. Think about how many people pass through the Atlanta airport every day. How many people have seen and heard Tonee Valentine play the piano? Yet Carlos Whittaker did something about it.
#2 The story reminds us to use our influence for good. We may not have the following of a well-known author like Carlos Whittaker, but we all can use whatever influence we have to encourage others to support a worthy cause.
#3 Our opportunities, resources, and abilities to do good are all different. But whether it’s a little or a lot, everyone can do something to brighten someone’s day and to make a difference.
Whether it’s a generous tip for a hard-working server at a restaurant, donating a few dollars to a charity you believe in, or supporting a college that espouses Christian values, look for a way to “do good.”
If you’ve been blessed by the generosity of others, be like Tonee Valentine and “pay it forward.”
Doing good is being like Jesus, whom Dr. Luke said, “went about doing good” (Ax 10:38).
Finally, let’s not be discouraged, disheartened, or dismayed by the bad news pundits.
Look for good news. Celebrate it. And share it.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman