In a world in which nothing seems predictable, from civil wars in the Middle East, to union busting in Wisconsin, rising oil and gas prices, and millions of kids going hungry, I often shut my eyes and wonder if I can, just in a small way, make the world a better place. It sounds so trivial, but it is real...can improving just one life, once in a while, make the world just that much better?
I have to believe it is so, or else, the meaning of existence would not mean much at all...So, how is it that some of us have the curse that we feel compelled to make the world a better place, and other of us, can just exist, being satisfied that we survive day-to-day without harming anyone in our path? I am one of the cursed...I am driven by the need to "do good" on some level in my life.
For many years, I represented 100s of kids, kids in trouble with the law, kids struggling in school, kids who parents tried, but simply couldn't withstand the rigors of parenting. There was a lot of pain, a lot of lecturing, a lot of re-shaping, and too much disappointment. There would be a team of social workers, psychologists, teachers, probation officers and lawyers working with these kids and families, but sometimes, the dysfunction was so hard wired, or the damage from the abuse so irreversible that, no matter our best efforts, the kids would fall through the cracks, and eventually become adults who also fell through the cracks. I started to feel as if each child's pain became my own. Ten years into it, I left to maintain my protective shell and to help my own family.
Years later, after leaving that world, I occasionally have a fleeting encounter with my past. Was that young victim a past client of mine? Is so-in-so now in prison? And, how many babies did she lose to state custody? But, sometimes, a glimmer of what it means to make a difference walks through the door.
And, indeed that is what happened this week when I was sitting in the bakery. After a steady stream of walk-ins, one tall well-dressed man walked in the bakery. "Beth?" He said, "Yes?" I answered. He continued, "You may not remember me, but you represented my son several years ago when he was a teenager." "Oh yes," I said, "How is he doing?" He continued, "He is doing wonderfully; after the dark period in which you represented him, he turned himself around, got into college, did really well, and now works in finance. I just wanted to say thank you and wish you good luck with your business ventures." Slightly stunned, I said "You are welcome; and please tell your son, I say congratulations and if he ever wants to invest in his attorney, I have a great business." We both said good-bye with a smile and a nod.
I guess one small gesture can make a world of difference, even if it just for one kid.
Ingredients: One Spelt Right Pizza Dough, fully thawed and risen, stretched out on a stainless steel pan oiled with extra virgin olive oil. Preheat oven to 450F. Let dough rest in a warm place while on the pan. It gives it a lighter crispier texture. Top with your favorite toppings. I used Frank's Pasta Sauce, made in Cranston, RI., Hannaford Mozzarella Cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and Trader Joe's Calamata Olive Tapenade. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending upon how you like your crust.
Critique: A pizza that has the possibility to make the world a better place. Enjoy. Stop and smell the roses and the pizza.