If You Want Something Done…

By: Benjamin Lawrence Bradley

The mission of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful is to empower our citizenry to take greater responsibility for the care of their environment. For those who see an area in need of care, we are here to stand beside you. We are here to provide you with the tools you need to make it happen. You bring yourselves and all who will come with you, and we will provide litter grabbers, gloves, safety vests, trash bags, and buckets. We will be there to support you and even haul away the trash. It is not enough to see something that needs to be done and to call upon someone else to come do it. We must all do everything we can and roll up our own sleeves to make it happen.

I am reminded of a story about a man named Sam. He was a good man. He worked hard, attended his church, and helped his community whenever he was asked. He loved his family and friends very much. While he struggled with his own weaknesses and shortcomings, as we all do, he tried to live a good life and was genuinely concerned for the welfare of others.

One night Sam had a dream. In this dream, he stepped out of his home into a grand noonday celebration. All his friends, family, and neighbors surrounded him with cheers, balloons, and party hats. A feast fit for a king was laid out on his left and to his right, a crowd of children ran and played, jumping in a bouncy house, splashing in a swimming pool, and screaming passed him on a rollercoaster. Sam’s neighborhood had been transformed into a wonderland.

“What is going on?” he finally managed to ask.

“You’ve won the lottery!” “You’ve won!” “Congratulations!” They all cheered. A dozen hands patted him on the back, hoisted him upon their shoulders, and carried him through the streets with all the pomp and celebration of a hero returning from war.

In the rich blue sky above, billowing clouds parted and Sam heard a soft voice. “What would you do with such wealth?” he was asked solemnly. “What work are you willing to do to make good things come to pass?”

“Anything,” Sam replied in awe.

“I grant you a wealth of time and call upon you to get to work.”

Sam awoke energized. He thought of his hometown. The little city that he had grown up in and loved so dearly. He thought of all the things he could do. He could rebuild the old church that had long needed repairs. He thought of the old baseball field that had become a dumping ground. Sam imagined cleaning it up and building a new diamond with a dugout and stands for all the kids to play. He thought about the old downtown and things he could do to revitalize the vacant buildings and breathe new life into the town square. He envisioned a return to the bustling streets that he remembered as a child. He mapped out new neighborhoods where the poor could have safe and comfortable places to live. On and on he became consumed with his plans. On and on he planned for the day that he would win the lottery and finally be able to get to work. Years went by as Sam sat and prepared everything he could think of to be ready for the day he could begin.

As Sam grew older, he began to lose faith in his dream. Day after day he sat crestfallen, thinking that if he only had that money, he could have made all those good things happen. In his last years, he lay brokenhearted until one day, he finally died.

As the mortal world faded from his eyes, Sam found himself alone on a green knoll of grass overlooking a magnificent view of hills and streams. Miles of orchards and wildlife were framed by endless ranges of majestic mountains. A true vision of heaven. The sun was high overhead with a familiar spread of billowing clouds puffing across the royal sky. Once again, the clouds parted, and once again Sam heard the same voice that he remembered from long ago.

“What have you done with the wealth of time given to you?”

“I planned for every good thing I could think of,” Sam said. “Many things that would have improved the lives of everyone around me.”

“Yes, but what did you do?”

Sam stood flabbergasted. He had planned it out so perfectly. All he needed was to have that money and everything would have been easy.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “Why didn’t you let me win the lottery?”

“Samuel, my son,” the voice in the clouds replied. “You have to buy a ticket.”

By: Benjamin Lawrence Bradley – Executive Director, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful