Yes, I Believe in Miracles

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This famous young man is 8 now. He's trying to save his dad. (Image by Laney Griner)
This famous young man is 8 now. He’s trying to save his dad. (Image by Laney Griner)

You can show me beheading videos and tell me the world is going to hell.

You can tell me about sex scandals and Wall Street greed and random acts of senseless violence, and throw up your hands.

I know. There’s a lot of bad out there.

But, just for a moment, please look at this other thing.

Because it’s a miracle.

In 2015, we can save people’s lives. You and me. With a keyboard.

Famous internet meme “Success Kid” was just 11 months old when his mother snapped that perfect photo of him—an image now associated with wins of all shapes, sizes and colors.

I like this one.
I like this one.

Success Kid is actually Sammy Griner. He’s 8 now.

And his dad is probably going to die from failing kidneys unless he finds a compatible kidney donor and the Jacksonville, Fla.-based family can raise enough money to pay for the expensive treatment after the surgery.

At first, Sammy’s mother Laney didn’t want to use her son as a means of raising money for Justin Griner’s cause. She wanted the focus to be on Justin. But then she considered the power of the internet, and the reach that one random photo of her son had already achieved.

Maybe it could help, she thought.

First, The Daily Dot picked up the story. Then BuzzFeed, where I saw it. The Griners launched a GoFundMe campaign with a $75,000 goal. (The drugs needed to make a body and a strange kidney work together are very expensive.)

When I first read about it 24 hours ago, the family had raised close to $20,000 of their $75,000 goal.

By the time I went to bed last night, they had nearly $70,000. Now, they have more than $83,000. And the number is climbing.

Every minute or two, someone new is offering $5 or $10 or $20 or $100.

Another stranger who wants that 8-year-old boy to keep his father for as long as possible.

It’s because people—no matter how many bad things we do and how selfish we behave—are inherently good.

The Eve of Destruction

I hear a lot of people complaining about modern times.

It’s because we used to know all of our neighbors and hang out together on front porches. There was a greater sense of community.

It’s because when you saw groups of friends out in public together they were always talking and laughing and playing, and now we see people with their eyes glued to their phones Snapchatting or tweeting or updating Facebook.

It’s because we get annoyed with all the vanity and the internet bullying and the way web stories about Kim Kardashian get infinitely more people reading them than the top story in The New York Times.

I sometimes long for the good ol’ days, too. It’s nostalgia and we all have bouts with it and wish we could go back in time in Uncle Rico’s time machine.

It’s why so many of us go through mid-life crises. Our minds want desperately to experience the good we remember from our past, or to have the chance to right some wrongs, or to take advantage of missed opportunities.

But there’s no such thing as time travel. There’s only right now.

There’s too much sex and violence on TV!

Music ain’t what it used to be!

All the kids are doing drugs and having sex!

EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE, and it’s because of progress and technology! Because everyone wants everything bigger, better, faster and stronger even though everything was already fine just as it was!

I’d like to offer an alternative theory.

As With Every Single Thing in Life, Change Brings Some Bad—But a Lot of Good, Too

In almost every instance in life, when we make a decision or major change, we are sacrificing some good thing in exchange for some other, newer good thing that hopefully we feel was worth it in the end.

When we make a change, something usually gets worse.

Everything is a trade-off.

Everyone has these phones now. So we’re distracted. We’re not present with our friends and family sometimes because we’re addicted to responding to texts and answering email and liking something in our newsfeeds.

And, sure. That made life a little worse.

But in return, we got the ability to capture photos and video of moments with those same friends and family. Of dirty cops shooting unarmed civilians and bringing them to justice. Of allowing people all over the globe to communicate—and even see one another!—in real time.

Justin and Sammy Griner. (Image by Laney Griner)
Justin and Sammy Griner. (Image by Laney Griner)

Maybe you’re not a sucker for a good father-son story like me.

It’s probably because I’m emotionally hardwired to be moved by them since I didn’t see my father very much growing up, and since I’m now living out a new father-son story with my little boy, not all that much younger than Sammy Griner.

Yesterday, I witnessed one of the world’s greatest examples of just how good and beautiful life really is.

We can lament the death of old-school journalism. Of community. Of romantic notions of yesteryear.

But in 2015, we can raise $80,000 in a day to save a man’s life because we fell in love with a photo of his son.

And just maybe, that dad gets many more years because of it.

Just maybe, a wife and mother is rewarded for the love she chooses each day.

Just maybe, Success Kid gets more time with his father.

Don’t tell me the world has gone to hell.

Don’t tell me life isn’t beautiful.

Don’t tell me that’s impossible.

Don’t tell me it’s pointless to feel hope.

Don’t tell me there are no such things as miracles.

Because I just saw one.

10 thoughts on “Yes, I Believe in Miracles”

  1. Totally getting the chokey voice on this one. Thank you for sharing the love-spiration.
    Just last night I was talking with an old friend about Laura Ingalls Wilder books. And we got talking about how times have changed. In that book series alone, the world changed a whole bunch. My friend pointed out how in the first book it was mostly man vs. nature, a house in the woods and some bears, some bad weather and so on. Very little need for each other. But in later installments of this woman’s life she talked about how the train didn’t make it in to town on time and people had to share stockpiled food to keep from starving. Over time, as technology picked up, people depended on each other more. We don’t think about that often- how much I depend on the blueberry farmer or the chicken picker, the banana guys in… Ecuador? Chile? (I just checked a banana- Honduras.) And that awesome kid and his dad. We do need each other. Thanks for the beautifully written reminder!

    1. Somewhere inside you, something gets stirred. When the thing you see or read or hear matters so much more than most of the stuff we see and read and hear all day. Sometimes, something grabs and shakes you. (Your writing does that too, Jennifer.)

      There are a MILLION stories like this out there that don’t have a super-famous internet meme to use as an attention-grabber.

      Just brave souls out there praying for miracles because they need one.

      I’m totally in love with crowdfunding and all the good that people are doing for one another.

      Yes, we need each other. And our lives our collectively better when we see real-world examples of the good we do.

      This is one of those moments.

      And they happen every day. We need only notice them.

  2. completelyinthedark

    Hands down, best post of yours I’ve read (out of a lot of great ones). Wow.

    1. Thank you for saying that, Mike. As a former journalist, I really believe that fear and sensationalism is what publishers sell, and probably always will.

      But sometimes we are reminded that between all the rape and murder, and all the Hollywood gossip and pointlessness, there lies these little stories that matter.

      The little things that in real life are the really big things.

      We do the world a disservice by not talking about them.

      Thank you for talking about them.

  3. On topic (but not really)… The day before you posted this, I Literally searched for this very meme to use in a fb response to a friend who was challenge me to try black coffee (blech). I said I was gonna do it! And used that adorable sandy-fisted pic. The next day, you not only use the pic but tell this big ol’ emotional story about it. Is this not really a big deal because it was HUGE in my own mind. Creeeeeeeepy, Matt! You’ve gotta get out of my brain! I gave you a pass forever cuz we were both going through divorce so our thoughts were in line, but this? This is too much! 😉 (ps…it’s almost 1 am and I have insomnia…hence this awkward and inappropriately long comment about nothing….)

  4. I was told once that there is so much bad int he world because it’s trying to counterbalance all of the good that is there and growing.

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Matt Fray

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