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This Little Light of Mine...

In the shock 'em contest to get viewers, readers and listeners, what passes for news and entertainment these days is aimed at feeding that dark side adrenalin lust -- to be repulsed, to be disturbed, to feel disgust.

Between some weirdo's definition of reality in TV shows, the up-close and grisly horrors of the evening news reports, and the tell-all scandals that get front page headlines in the daily newspapers, you'd think that the US has become a nation full of wackos.

So, when the Great Falls Tribune ran a recent story on its e-news front page -- Fifth-grader celebrates birthday by volunteering -- this headline absolutely grabbed my attention.

For Katy Walters and three of her friends, celebrating a birthday is something special. But, instead of the typical glitz and glitter, swimming or roller-skating party that marketing tells us all kids expect these days, these four young friends celebrated Katy's birthday by volunteering their time at the Easter Seals-Goodwill Child Development Center in Great Falls. They read books to small groups of preschoolers, talked about their favorite stories, and passed out treats to the 14 young children in the CDC program.

Now that's news! And, it made me feel good to read it.

Despite all the so called reality trash that pushes us daily to become mean spirited and callous to people around us, to use deception and cunning to win in competition, to depend on force and violence to get what we want in the world --- there are still good kids out there, kids who really do care.

There IS hope yet -- for our increasingly brutal, uncaring society. But it usually doesn't take front page, and it doesn't sell papers or product, or get a huge market share of viewers -- at least that's what folks who choose what we see, hear or hear about, have convinced us to believe -- that good news is NOT news, only the seamy side of human behavior is worth giving any attention.

Like David against Goliath, Frodo against Sauron, we need to change the direction in which we're pushing the next generation.

We have to do everything we can, every moment we can to counter balance the ugliness, hate, greed and violence that is now called "entertainment." We have to help kids learn that caution is valid but fear and paranoia that colors every person as a danger is just as destructive to how they will participate in the world.

We have to show each and every young person that we come across in our daily lives, that we value who they are and who they can become.

What can You do? Whether you're a parent, grandparent, neighbor, aunt, uncle, friend, mentor, volunteer, or someone who just sees young people in the mall, in the neighborhood, or on the street corner, there are many ways you can help change where we're heading.

It's already happening, across the entire state of Alaska. Whole communities are banding together to support and encourage a more positive future for their young people

What can You do? Take a good look here.

And for Katy Walters and her friends, keep on doing what you are doing. Keep on making a difference. Keep on doing everything YOU can to help make the world a more positive place. Happy Birthday! And MANY happy returns.

This one is in memory of Karen, who celebrated her birthday every year by going to the Red Cross center to donate a pint of blood.