Post # 180 A M*A*S*H Inspired Lesson

October 19, 2013 at 7:03 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 180 A M*A*S*H Inspired Lesson

You’ve read my blog posts in the recent past about childhood hunger.  There are so many very easy things that we each could be doing to make a huge impact in the hunger crisis for kids in our country.  I won’t go into the specifics since I’ve written about them recently, and will likely write about them again when the information will do the most good.

Right now, I want to discuss a different kind of situation.  It’s one of degrees, not motivation.  I have a very good friend I’ve know since high school, and for whatever reason we happened on this discussion earlier this week.  I know she won’t mind if I relay the pertinent bits of that discussion.  And if she does, too bad.  (wink wink)

We were discussing kids, and those who don’t have the best starts in life, and those who don’t have the best parents.  With the government shut down, we talked about parents who needed more of the government services, but were unable to get them due to the very thing that was causing them to need the services in the first place.  Ever since I moved back to this town, she has told me about the outreach her church has made for the community, trying to supply their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.  It’s one church and this is a very large city.  But they’re doing what they can.  And they’re doing it very effectively.

Then she made the comment “I’m worried about people being hungry.”

I got more than a little impatient.  I basically just verbally kicked her butt.  I don’t know if she’ll every talk to me again, but I lit into her.  Worry?  That’s for the birds.  Sitting on your couch, wringing your hands, being worried while children go hungry is not accomplishing anything.  If you’re “worried” create an action.  Telling people you’re worried, no matter how good it makes you feel, does NOT put supper on the table.

After I got myself in better control, we continued our discussion, and we both recalled an episode of M*A*S*H.  For those who don’t know the show, it was about an Army hospital during the Korean war and how the characters dealt with the stresses of trying to save lives during war and being away from their families and careers and lives back in the States.  It was based on the movie of the same name, but the show ran for so many seasons that it eclipsed the movie totally.  It had amazing writers and actors and over time, it evolved from a strict comedy to a dramatic comedy.  During its last few seasons, it stopped using a laugh track, allowing the viewers and the actors to create the comedic moments for themselves.

One of the recurring themes in the show centered around how the war affected the children in the area.  The character Father Mulcahy, a quiet, spiritual, unassuming man was very involved with the local orphanages who were featured on more than one episode.  At one time or another, every character had a story line involving the children of the war.

One of the more inspired characters was Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester, the third, brilliantly portrayed by David Ogden Stiers.  Charles, as he insisted he be called, was from a rich Boston family with a stellar career in thoracic surgery before being shunted to the MASH.  He used his arrogance and pretentiousness to keep a distance between himself and the ravages of the war.  It was his only defense, which wore down over time.  During the first season he was on the show, there was a Christmas episode in which he was prominently featured.

His family had a long practice of buying the largest box of the most expensive chocolate at one of Boston’s premier stores.  They would anonymously leave this treat on the doorstep of some poor family on Christmas Eve, delighting in the fact that they had helped another family during the holidays, in addition to their standard charitable works.  This year, Charles requested his family send the chocolate to him so he could leave it with the orphans.  On Christmas day, the MASH people were hosting Christmas for the orphanage complete with presents and dinner.  During the party’s hectic confusion, Charles quizzed a few of the orphans about their unexpected treat.  They talked about the party and the food, but there was no mention of the chocolate.  Charles went to the director of the orphanage and asked if he’d found the chocolate.  He had and was very grateful for the gift.  Charles asked when he was going to give the chocolate to the children, the man explained that he’d sold the gift on the black market and used the money to buy rice.  Charles was incensed that his gift had been abused in that way.

The older man said “Major, you would have given them a treat that would have lasted them a day and would not have nourished them.  I was able to get enough rice to feed them for a month.”  Charles was humbled as he said, “You’re right.  I should never have given dessert to a child who has not yet had a meal.”

That’s the lesson from this post, that my friend and I puzzled out during our talk.  Being worried, being sad, being ineffective does no one any good.  There’s a huge grapefruit tree in my back yard.  I don’t like grapefruit.  Neither does partner/spouse, and FiL only likes them occasionally.  The produce would rot almost entirely on the tree if it weren’t for one man.  He came by twice, with the owners’ permission, and pulled all the fruit from the tree.  I asked if he was selling it, not that I care, I was just curious.  He told me that he took it all to a park where the homeless population of the city usually hung out and gave them all away.  I thought that was the coolest thing I’d heard in a long time.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to put thoughts into action.  Many groceries have coupons at the registers that you can buy.  Food banks take donations daily.  Many churches accept whatever you want to get rid of, as long as it’s not perishable.

So, that’s the MASH inspired lesson.  Actions and deeds, not thoughts and sympathy.  Thanks again for letting me climb on my soap box!


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