Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's Often the Small Gestures That Mean the Most

We read with interest yesterday that former ABC White House Sam Donaldson was retiring. It's perhaps a sign of the times that we thought he had retired quite some time ago. But then, we don't watch much traditional network news anymore. But the most interesting thing of all about his retirement was this lovely story about his decency, recounted by The New Republic's John Judis. "One way to judge people’s character is how they treat those who are beneath them in status or authority. Take ABC television newsman Sam Donaldson, who retired today. I don't know Donaldson, and don’t watch Sunday news shows, but I had one experience with him many years ago when I was following former Rep. Dick Gephardt around for a story. Gephardt had a luncheon interview scheduled at ABC in Washington, and I accompanied him. The various bigshots, George Will, Cookie Roberts etc., were having lunch at their executive dining room. I was directed to a chair up against the wall and away from the table, where I could watch, but not participate in, the proceedings. I wasn’t introduced to anyone or offered lunch. Five minutes into the luncheon, as the interview was beginning, Donaldson disappeared into the dining room, and came back with a lunch on a tray for me. It was a minor, but a noble, gesture, and the kind of thing that I remember about people."

Meanwhile, we loved a similarly good-hearted idea our friend Dennis Coughlin floated recently on his blog. "Do you know someone who is out of work? Take them out for some coffee and conversation. Introduce them to someone new. Let them know that you are there for support if needed. They do need to get off the computer occasionally, get out of their houses, and talk to people who are not in the world of job searching, desperation, and depression, but rather are caring and listening."

Here then, is a tip of the cap to a couple of mensches, Sam & Dennis.


At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Mike Q said...

As far as I'm concerned, those are the things that make life worth living.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

You said it, Mike. You string enough of those small gestures together over time, and they really add up into a life well lived.

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How touching and lovely.

Thank you, John -


At 11:15 AM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

Two VERY good stories. It's in gestures like these that humanity shows itself worthy of survival, especially in those darker times when basic civility seems to have been otherwise lost.

Thank you.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Thanks, everyone for commenting, and for reinforcing my own belief in how important both these items were. Art, you used precisely the right word. These stories are both really about our common humanity.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Dennis said...

Thank you, John for those kind words and the company in which you put me. Caring behavior begins with being aware of that which goes on around all of us. That awareness happens when you open yourself and make a conscious effort to listen. It is especially important with those whose voices and activities are underrepresented and unheard in the noise that exists in our lives.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Dennis, so glad you came by to add your voice, since it was of course your voice that kicked things off here today. I hope readers will make a mental note to stop by your blog occasionally and drink from its deep waters. I always feel a moment of calm and relaxation come over me when reading what you write. It's no doubt your gentle spirit at work. Anyway, thanks for sharing your great message, Dennis. Hope our paths will cross non-virtually sometime soon.


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