Michael is one of the good guys. I was out for a bike ride on a cold yet sunny fall Saturday afternoon. Sunset was imminent, and I had to find something worthy of painting. I wandered down a lonely road and happened upon a lumber mill. It was Saturday, and the mill was closed down. The colors and the sun raking across the silo begged me to paint it. I sat down, cribbed some brownish water from the mud puddle and started to paint.

Five minutes into the painting a young security guard (Michael) came and asked what I was doing. You can tell a lot about a man in the first few moments. I think it surprised him how quickly I read him. I think it surprised him more how much I appreciated what I read.

Michael is the guy that you call when you need help moving. He is the guy that visits you in the hospital. He is the guy that returns your wallet money enclosed. He is the guy that picks up someone else’s litter and the guy that generous, kind, and thoughtful. He is the kind of guy that does the right thing without anyone asking, and even when no one is watching.

How do I know this? He walked from wherever he was stationed in the mill, all the way out to where I was. It was probably warmer there in his little station. He could have just stayed put, and watched me on the CCTV monitor. But, he isn’t that guy. The right thing to do as a security guard is to go and check things out. By the look of the place, I could tell he was the only guard. No one would know if he didn’t “do his job”.

But Michael would know.

Judging by his boyish face, I could tell he was young, intelligent, and this wasn’t his “real job”. The mill was close to the University of Oregon, and as such I deduced he was a student. Yet this student is not the rich kid. A lot of people in the media like to vilify the youth of today. Many say they are self-entitled, lazy, and mooches. While Michael may take some Pell grant money, he is also here working, freezing his butt off, working three days of back-to-back 12 hour days, and doing his homework when he can while on the job.

That doesn’t seem lazy to me.

Michael is a man of character as well. He could have kicked me off the property, but rather, he gave me the benefit of the doubt. He watched me paint for an hour. He watched me paint “his” saw mill. He took an interest in what was important to me. He understood what I was after, and allowed me to continue. He could’ve been sour, he could’ve wanted to “get back to the game”. He could have been a person who only lives to follow the rules, get paid, and check out. Rather, he was the guy that did his best to protect his employers, and created good will with me a person in the community.

His validation in life wasn’t garnered by the size of his bonus check, but by the size of the joy he helped create in other’s lives. That is why he was studying to help people in the criminal justice system. He wants to help those people that society has given up on.

Many people do not realize that “Good Will” is an Generally Accepted Accounting Principle. “Goodwill is an accounting concept meaning the value of an asset owned that is intangible but has a quantifiable “prudent value” in a business for example a reputation the firm enjoyed with its clients.” In other words, you can put on your ledger an asset, something of value ,and something that puts you into the black—it’s name is goodwill. Kindness has monetary value.

Michael’s employers are lucky to have him as the face of their company when they aren’t around. He creates good will. Of course he does…that is who he is.

There has been a lot of talk of late, what with the election and all. TV, pundits, and it seems most people in politics have been discussing the nature of the common American. Some have depicted him/her as a mooch, and regretably, a ethnic or minority mooch. Recently on FOX, Bill O’Reilly said that America has changed. He said:

It’s a changing country. The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America any more. And there are 50% of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it and he ran on it. And, whereby twenty years ago, President Obama would have been roundly defeated by an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney. The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama, overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People (and by this he means the afore mentioned Black, Hispanic, and Women “People” as apposed to the White Male “People”?) feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?

I point to the example of my friend Michael here merely to show how different he, all the people that I have met around the country are from this statement by Bill O’Reilly. In running around the country, I have met people who work hard, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, and are not mooches. Most of them are of color. I’ve met people just like Michael everywhere. Good people.

I know from where I speak, because I have done it myself. I have been good and I have been bad. I have lied and I’ve told the truth. I have cheated, and I’ve been honest. I have stolen, and I have given. And yet, I believe without a shadow of a doubt, the nature of humanity is good. All people are good. How different then are the people like Michael and countless others like him are from that racial stereotype by O’Reilly.

Michael is mixed. I don’t know what he is, I didn’t ask…I didn’t care. But, in just a few minutes with him, I can tell you a lot about this remarkable young man. And all of it—good.

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