|'Beautiful People' Build Beautiful Communities
We might have been a panel of beavers, the way pencils diminished, chewed to their nubs as we fretted over a task we could not do justice. That was choosing Calvert County's worthiest volunteer among the 27 citizens nominated this year by coworkers, mothers, wives, teachers and neighbors whose lives they'd touched. Our choice would be honored at home in Calvert County and alongside the state's 23 counties plus Baltimore City in this millennial year's Maryland You Are Beautiful recognition ceremony.
What's to fret about in a situation where we - reporters and editors plus a past honoree - couldn't go wrong? Where the candidates - women and men young, old and hard at work in the prime of life - reached out from their hearts to enrich their community?
Where babies, kids, mothers in need, citizens without homes, Scouts, neighbors, senior citizens, dogs, cats, rabbits and even ferrets got a helping hand?
Where literacy was advanced, citizenship enriched, loneliness countered, hunger assuaged, poverty ameliorated, hunger fed and kids shaped in strength and character?
We fretted because we had to choose one when, in justice, honor was due to many. Yet fret as we did, we judges - and all the contest's administrators, who also read the nominations - wouldn't have missed this opportunity even for a deadline. For the words we read, and through them the people we met, enriched our lives as well.
Wow! we said, Calvert is rich with charity - and not any condescending sort but the honest, equitable caring of one equal for another.
Giving, we pondered, expands beyond one helping one. For each person - even each creature - who receives a gift of true charity grows in strength and independence, so that instead of problem-makers our communities have solution-sharers. Each child who finds his or her way grows into a flourishing person. So much giving spreads like ripples on the water.
Not the least of charity's beneficiaries is its giver, for by giving we overcome isolation, creating community and character for ourselves as well. It's a sure cure for the alienation of modern times, an ill compounded as we spend more time with - and some say, get more satisfaction from - computers than people.
Reaching out gets to be such a habit that 40 or so of Maryland's delegates to the National Democratic Convention in Los Angeles spent an early morning out on the ocean beach picking up trash.
Of course, it's not just Democrats or Calvert Countians. Similar energy is at work in all our counties, and judges all over the state will fret just as we did over who to choose as their most beautiful Marylander.
P.S. In this case, you'll have to wait until early September after Calvert County honors all 27 of this year's nominees, to learn our choice.