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Friday, February 22, 2013

Lucky people?

This morning on Facebook I saw this post by my cousin Dan Haley who is a State Trooper in Colorado:

Tonight was one of those nights where I really felt I had an impact on a few lives. Feels good and reminds me why I do what I do.

I replied:

Lucky people have professions where they can see the positive impact of their work. It's very rewarding.

After a little thought I decided this would be a good topic to write about—how lucky it is to have a job that touches other people. When I had originally seen Dan's post I was going to respond that in both of my accidental professions—teaching and journalism-- I had occasionally had the same feeling; the work I was doing was having a real impact on a people's lives. In the end I made the above response because I didn't want to appear to reduce the importance of what he does by comparing it to what I do. I do impact lives in my work but my job doesn't ever require me to put my own life in danger.

So I started thinking about how I would begin this post and my first thought was:

Lucky—people who win the lottery aren't lucky, people who find money on the street aren't lucky, etc, etc...People who are lucky are the people whose professional lives make the world a better place.

As I searched the internet for other 'lucky' examples I could use in the previous paragraph, I realized that people whose professions make the world a better place are not lucky, they are idealistic, ethical, political, compassionate and a few more adjectives I can't think of at the moment none of which relate to luck.

People who do the type of work my cousin does don't do it because they are lucky, they do it because they want to make the world a better place. What is lucky are occasional glimpses of the beneficial results of their work.

As a teacher it often takes years before I see the success of a student. I am just adding bricks to the foundation of their lives—it takes a lot of bricks to make a house and I may never see the finished product. In rare, extremely special cases, I can see a student's mind open, see a concept grasped, and confidence expand. Those are the moments I teach for.

As a journalist/writer it is often harder to see the direct impact you have on someone's life. I have been fortunate enough to have had a few stories that were so immediately important that they made a noticeable impact. Those are rare moments and I cherish them.

I am not exactly sure what the point of this post is except to serve as a declaration against luck as a force for good in the world. Good comes from the people that make it happen. It's not lucky that my cousin is a State Trooper. It was his choice. A choice we can only hope others will also make. What we need in the world is not more luck but more Dan Haleys.

I can not finish this piece without linking to an article about my cousin Dan who was awarded a medal for heroism by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in 2012 for saving the life of a child. It's my privilege to call this man family.

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