Politics, the economy, health care, big business, media bias, unemployment, global warming and the list goes on and on. It begins to weigh on me, and I’m ashamed to admit that frustration sets in from time to time.
However, when I most need it and least expect it, the clouds part, the sunlight diminishes the darkness as it warms my heart and reminds me that we have the ultimate privilege of living among the best people on the face of the earth.
Based on your personal beliefs, credit God, Allah, angels, destiny, fate or any of the many other cosmic influences which invariably appear to save the day. I recently experienced several unanticipated adverse situations within a single week which resulted in somewhat of a frustrating mind-set for me. I was fast approaching a serious “feel-sorry-for-myself” depression when I came across a short but powerful story in our local newspaper. It was certainly a bonafide mood changer for me.
The article focused on a small local Mexican restaurant, Los Gringos, which has recently fallen on hard times. It’s far from any of the major brand name chain restaurants. In fact, it’s situated on an out-of-the-way, seldom traveled, forlorn stretch of city street on the edge of town. After 34 years in business, financial hardships were threatening to close its doors. The problems started about 2½ years ago when the local economy began to reduce its customer count. The owners of this neighborhood “taco and home-made salsa palace” owed a $4,300 unpaid tax bill which was only 10% of what they actually owed the state. Then, four days after Christmas, a robbery was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Word quickly spread that the beloved restaurant was on the ropes and the donations suddenly started pouring in. The very first donation was a $100 bill from a man who had been in the restaurant only once prior to the donation. It didn’t take him long to learn about the fantastic food and the love shared by the “most wonderful, kind-hearted people” who operated this quaint establishment.
Obviously, many others shared this love and respect for the owners as they quickly decided this restaurant was simply “too lovable to fail.” Loyal customers quickly raised the entire $4,300 to pay the tax bill that was due the following Monday!
This from a city within a state dealing with a 14.7% unemployment rate and shuttered auto plants at every turn! It is truly amazing what the American spirit can render in times of need! This wasn’t a government bailout generated by politicians with cynical motives. This was a determined group of American citizens sharing an intangible force which is immeasurable by any standard.
In the face of distress the American spirit has brought us courage; when uncertain, it’s brought us optimism; when sad, its filled our hearts with love and serenity. We Americans are bound together by this invisible, dynamic and enduring force. It’s tenacious when challenged, indestructible in times of hardship, but best of all, it’s the driving force behind the America that we know and love.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a small picturesque Mexican restaurant in the heart of a mid-western city or the devastated countryside of Haiti … the American spirit is there to serve and support those in need.
So the next time you’re discouraged by the consistently negative headlines in your local newspaper, pause for a moment to check for the story beneath the fold that will bring a tear to your eye, a lump to your throat, and warmth to your heart as you discover the true power of the American spirit!
If you’d be interested in joining those assisting the fine folks at the restaurant in their attempt to raise the remaining 90% of what they owe the state, send a check to: Los Gringos Restaurant, 6030 S. Martin L. King Jr. Blvd., Lansing, MI 48911
They’ll appreciate your donation and you’ll feel better for having provided it. And if you’re in the area, stop by for a fantastic taco!