CBS Sunday morning.jpeg

A few years ago, I loved watching CBS Sunday Morning for the beautiful 45-second nature scenes they show right at the end. I finally got smart a few months ago and started DVRing it. Then I can fast forward through everything else I love and get to the parts I want.

But gradually something different happened. I found that there were often very compelling stories about humans acting wonderfully toward other humans and often toward at-risk animals. So the April 29 version I watched this afternoon, for example, was so good that I watched almost all of it and fast-forwarded through a few short items.

Here are three things I saw in the April 22 and April 29 episodes that I watched this weekend.

1. In the April 22 episode, an American who got what virtually all of us would regard as a scam letter from a man in Liberia in which the Liberian asked for help, replied “How can I help you?” The American admits that his goal was to use up the Liberian’s valuable time and see where it led. Bit by bit, it led to his publishing a book of the Liberian’s photographs, selling enough copies to make $1,000, sending the Liberian his share ($500), and promising to send the other $500 if he would donate it to local charities.

Everything worked out. The American went over to Liberia and met his business partner, and saw that the partner had indeed donated the $500 so that kids in school could have notebooks, etc.

2. In the April 29 episode, some adults and their young kids living on an island off the mainland of Iceland save endangered birds called Puffins and help them get away from cats and other hazards. They delight in doing so.

3. In the April 29 episode, a lawyer in D.C. who had offered to share her sandwich with a homeless man encouraged him to tell his story and she would just listen. That led to her putting an ad in Craigslist encouraging others to tell their stories. There were many takers. She found that she was working all the time with her day job and with listening, so she made a big leap and quit her job. (Her husband’s income pays the bills.) She often takes notes and promises confidentiality. I’ve learned as both a talker and a listener how incredibly valuable this can be.

All of these are examples of voluntary measures to alleviate social problems, measures that have nothing to do with government.