Help Someone sit in the Sun

(Originally from a BYU graduation ceremony)By Kenneth E. Behring

Have you ever noticed that only when people become rich do they argue about how poor they were? Believe me, being poor is no great honor. In fact, what initially drove me in life was that I hated being poor.I mention this because when I was poor, I didn't know what true poverty was. And when I became rich, I didn't know what true riches were. Now I know a little more about true poverty and true riches.I owe this blessing to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although I'm not a member, about three years ago the Church asked me if I had room on my plane to drop off 15 tons of canned meat for refugees in Kosovo. Then the Church said, "And is there any chance that you might have a little extra room to drop off some wheelchairs in Romania?"I had never really thought about wheelchairs before. After that trip, I could think of little else.When we dropped off the chairs, the doctor told me that disabled people in Third World countries are often just discarded, abandoned, or hidden in back rooms. I met a girl who had spent the last 23 years lying on a mattress, looking at the ceiling without the ability to move. Imagine not being able to see the outdoors unless someone carries you.When we were in North Vietnam, we put an elderly lady in a wheelchair. Speaking through an interpreter, she said, "I'm 85 years old, and I've wanted to die but was not able to." Then she looked at me and said, "But now I don't want to die."In Zimbabwe, a fellow crawled 17 kilometers on his elbows to get to us. We put him in the wheelchair, and he was going around and around with a big smile on his face. After a while, he pulled himself out of it and sat on the ground. We asked him why. He said, "I've had my turn." He didn't realize he could keep it. This year he came back with his children to show that the chair was just like new. For millions of people, a wheelchair is not confinement. It is freedom—freedom to move, to go to school, to get a job. A chair is hope. Self-reliance. Independence. It is dignity. As you graduates leave here today full of brightness and possibilities, I ask that you not forget those who lie in the lonely depths of darkened rooms—immobilized perhaps physically, mentally, or by poverty or despair. I don't care how rich you become. I don't care what position of power you someday hold. I don't care what you invent or create or build. I ask only that along life's path you take time now and then to help your fellow man sit in the sun.

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