This past week I attended the funeral of a 96-year-old named Bill. His grandson described Bill as a quiet man who laughed easily, worked hard, was generous and loved his family. Bill worked in the shipping and receiving department for a local hospital. After his shift he’d often visit staff and patients, serving as an unofficial chaplain.
His grandson said: “My grandfather was a good man. A family man. Whose goodness made him great”.
I’ve been thinking about the grandson’s words in this post-election season. President-elect Trump would have us believe that greatness is defined by the wealth one accumulates and the power one possesses.
This is not a new idea. Nations build statues to military heroes and name buildings after wealthy donors. By one measure these are great men and women worthy of recognition.
Yet, when I think of the people I consider to be great, I think of people who are humble in heart. People who exhibit generosity and sensitivity toward others. Ordinary people who don’t think of themselves as brave but are capable of doing brave things.
People who pave our roads and teach our kids. People who risk their lives for the well-being of others. People guided by a strong moral compass.
Mr. Trump now our President-elect ran his campaign on the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’. I pray that he has the wisdom and dare I say, the humility, to look for guidance from everyday people like ‘Bill’, who was laid to rest at age 96.
A good man. A man who dedicated his life to his family and being a helpful neighbor. That’s a definition of greatness I can embrace.