In one of the local newspapers recently, the front page headlines read, “Fatal Shooting,” “Pedestrian Killed on Highway 34,” along with the announcement about the death of a local leader, and the news of six teenagers who were involved in a car accident. True enough, the headlines are often filled with disaster, death, and violence. Yet, on the same front page was this headline, “Children Help Firefighters Rescue Kitten from Drain.”
According to the story, several children were playing when they heard the cries of a kitten trapped in a drain near their home. They tried but failed to reach the feline and ran home to tell their parents who, in turn, called the fire department.
The firefighters, from Newnan Fire Department Engine I and Command 5, arrived and, after removing a concrete cap that covered the drainage pipe, tried to lure him out with a can of tuna supplied by a neighbor. It didn’t work so the firefighters cleared away the debris and eased him out with a broom. The rescued kitten was weak and was young enough that its eyes weren’t yet open.
The kitten was adopted by a couple of the kids who, in honor of the firefighters, named him “Smokey.” Had the children not acted when they heard the cries, had not the parents called authorities, and had not the firefighters arrived, Smokey would have drowned in the rains that fell a few hours later.
One can approach this front page story from a couple of perspectives: One is that the community is quiet enough that a cat rescue rates a front page story. Another perspective is that random acts of kindness — the good news that goes on in the community — happens more often than is reported. Personally, I think the second perspective is more accurate.
A few days ago, I was driving along an interstate and noticed a car that had broken down. About a half mile later there were two teenage young men walking toward the exit some two miles away. As I looked for a place to pull off, another car beat me to it and gave the boys a lift to the service station. It didn’t make the headlines, but it, too, was a “rescue” of sorts.
Then there’s the lady who fell down a flight of stairs and was hospitalized for months. When a friend heard that the woman had a cat, she “adopted” the cat and cared for it as her own until the injured woman could leave the hospital and reclaim her pet. That didn’t make the headlines either. Neither did the sacrifice of the teenager who took it upon himself to mow the lawn, for the entire summer, of a neighbor who had cancer and couldn’t do it himself.
Years ago, Fayette Fellowship, an Assembly of God congregation in Peachtree City, Ga., suffered a fire that destroyed their sanctuary. That made the headlines.
What didn’t make the headlines was the special offering taken for the stricken church by the members of First Baptist Church the next Sunday. When Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church allowed the Pentecostal congregation to meet in their sanctuary for nine months free of charge as the building was being rebuilt, that didn’t make the headlines either.
One newspaper in a community where I once lived had this under its masthead: “All the news that’s fit to print.” But they didn’t. All they printed was the bad news.
We all need to know that there is kindness and goodness in the world — that there are children who love animals, parents who will listen and respond, and civil servants who will even spend their hours rescuing an otherwise doomed kitten. It’s not spectacular news but it is important news.
Smokey is safe and with a family who loves him — I think that is news that is fit to print.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]