‘Do you know him?” my sister asked and I paused, but only for a moment.
“Well ... no,” I admitted while shaking my head because, well, it’s true — I don’t know him. Not really, anyway. Okay, so maybe not at all, actually.
But that’s okay. Because I know people who know him, and even others who know his mama and his daddy and his sisters, too. And I’ve talked with his granddaddy more than once, sweet man, even though at the time I didn’t know he was his granddaddy. So maybe I don’t know him, but they do. And that counts, right?
“No, I don’t know him,” I admitted again, but that’s okay.
I’m rooting for the hometown boy.
A woman I once knew told me that she thinks it’s a waste of time to care about people or things that don’t directly affect her and her family. The words came out of her mouth as we talked about news of a little girl who’d gone missing in another state. She was nowhere to be found, feared kidnapped or dead.
“Why do you bother even thinking about things like that?” she asked me. “You don’t even know them.” All I could do was look at her and I probably looked pretty stupid at that because I can only imagine the look on my face — one of shock mixed with a tinge of naïve horror that someone would actually say something like that — out loud.
“True,” I said. “But my heart aches for that poor child and for her family so I said a little prayer for them this morning.” My little prayer may not have helped much, but I imagine that thousands of little prayers from people all over the world who had heard the same story — people like me who don’t even know them — wove together and wrapped themselves around that little girl’s heart and around the hearts of her family and hopefully made a tiny difference.
“So what about when you hear of something good happening to someone deserving, someone you don’t know, doesn’t it make you feel happy for them?” I asked. She paused, but only for a moment.
“Why should I care?” she asked and, at first, I thought she was kidding, but just as quickly I realized she wasn’t. She really didn’t care about anything, unless it was happening to her.
I could call it sad. I could call it unfortunate. I could even call it selfish. I think I’ll just call it gross.
Lord only knows what she’d think or say to hear of me sitting in front of the television each week nearly bursting with pride over a hometown boy performing on “American Idol.” I don’t know Phillip Phillips or his mama or his daddy, but every time I hear him say “yes, m’am” or “yes, sir” and smile and seem surprised by the attention he’s getting on national television, I can’t help but believe they raised him right. He seems grateful for and humbled by the talent God gave him. And when the show is over each week, I vote. And then I vote again. And again.
“Do you know him?” my sister asked and I paused, but only for a moment.
“No, I don’t know him,” I admitted. But that’s okay.
Because even though I don’t know him or his mama or his daddy, I’m proud of our hometown boy, proud of his faith, proud of his courage, proud of his talent and the amazing opportunity he has. Proud that he says “yes m’am” and “yes, sir” on national television. Proud that he’s from tiny Leesburg, Ga., and he’s up there in front of the world showing them that his mama raised him right.
And that counts.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.