I heard the news this week that a friend of mine from high school had died. His name was Terry Bryson. In high school, Terry was teased a lot. He looked like Barney Rubble from the Flintstones, so everyone called him Barney Bryson. He hated that. He would get angry. He would lash out. He started drinking heavily in high school. I saw him drunk at parties on more than one occasion. That’s what killed him. At the end of his life, he was homeless and living under a lifeguard stand on a beach in Florida. The authorities said that is was death by alcohol. Although I wasn’t close to him, I was deeply saddened.
It made me think. I felt ashamed that I had teased him along with the others. I don’t blame myself for his death. Everyone has choices. But I keep wondering if someone had showed him some kindness, if someone had made a connection with him, if someone had taken some interest in him, would his life have turned out differently? Simple phrases like “You’re not good at math.” or “You’re not very pretty.” or “You’ll always have big hips.” can shape how we think about ourselves and how we interact with the world. So again, I ask you the question, “What impact are you making on the people you encounter every day?” Do you lift them up, encourage them, help them move on from a difficult time? Or do you criticize? Make fun? Show them anger?
This is one of those things that is simple, but not easy. We all have bad days and we all have our stuff and we all get off track and trample our fellow man at times. But you can get back on track. You can turn this around. You can create impacts that have ripple effects far beyond what you can ever imagine. And all it takes is one positive encounter with another human being. Go forth and find that person today.