I was recently standing in line at a Caribbean airport on my way back home. It has to have been the longest, winding check-in line I’ve ever seen! But despite the daunting wait ahead and the early hour, I struck up a pleasant conversation with a fellow traveler. He was from Holland and was going back to his wife and child following a business trip. After exchanging a few niceties, he asked me what I had been doing in the Caribbean—snorkeling? Swimming? Dining out while contemplating the spectacular sunsets of the Lesser Antilles? While he was right on two counts, I told him that, for the bulk of my stay, I had been helping with various social betterment programs led by the Church of Scientology—drug and crime prevention, human rights education, disaster response and the like.
I asked him if he’d seen the Freewinds, the vessel that belongs to the Church, which had been moored in Aruba for the past several days. He immediately recognized it and said he was aware of a lot of regular work being done by Scientologists and their various partners in the area. He was right: these volunteer actions have been widely recognized and formally acknowledged throughout the Caribbean islands and through Central America, on down to South America, particularly in Colombia.
Most recently, Hurricane Irma had just swept through the area, leaving a streak of destruction in its wake, so I told my Dutch “check-in buddy” about how the Freewinds had coordinated rescue and relief operations in nearby Curaçao (one of the severely hit islands) through its Volunteer Minister network. He was impressed, as confirmed by his nodding Netherlander noggin, towering above my own!
There are many people out there who are spontaneously good and positive and willing to make a change. They deserve attention and support.
After much shuffling (inch by inch), we finally made it into the plane. The Dutch man was a dot in the crowd by now and I found myself seated beside a twenty-year-old man. During the flight to the U.S. mainland, he slept most of the way but surfaced several minutes before touchdown, enough time for us to engage in some congenial banter. During those few minutes, I gleaned that he was a student living in Miami and a native of Aruba. Like the Dutch man before him, he asked me what I had been doing during my stay on his island. I recounted the same thing as before, adding that, due to the Church of Scientology’s immense success in the areas of education and human rights (to name but two), many groups, faiths and even governments have come on board, working alongside the Church to further social betterment efforts around the globe. This Aruban student had heard about the Church’s activities and was pleasantly surprised to learn about their excellent results. We parted as the engines subsided, each going our separate ways.
As I continued on the last leg of my trip, I mulled over my encounters with these two men from very different demographics—two separate age groups, two different nationalities, two distinct social statuses. At face value, they had very little in common. But beneath the physical traits and social conventions, they both had one prominent feature shared by most people on this planet: they approved of any efforts to help others and better the conditions of mankind and they were not suspicious of attempts by individuals to create a better society. Those who criticize or mock such endeavors are members of a bitter minority, incapable of conceiving of helping anyone but themselves.
My conclusion, as I laid my bags down at the journey’s end? There are many people out there who are spontaneously good and positive and willing to make a change. They deserve attention and support.
As for anyone who sneers or spits at people of goodwill, why even give them the time of day?