Arthur Godfrey, a radio and television broadcast pioneer who changed the stilted, formal speaking pattern of American announcers by adopting a casual, folksy tone on the air, along with jokes and spontaneous musical interludes, often had fun when reading commercials, ad libbing and usually paying no attention to the script.
In a particularly famous incident, Godfrey began a commercial spot by saying, “I HATE this product,” and continued on in this vein, segueing eventually into an endorsement of this awful thing, which turned out to be Bayer aspirin. And he didn’t really “hate” the product; his bit was to point out that he hated the idea that people needed it, that there was pain and suffering that only aspirin could relieve.
It was a silly if novel way to approach his job, but there is truth to be found in this tiny bit of nonsense from the early days of broadcast media.
We at REACH would like to thank each of you for participating in REACH Awareness Week. And yes, we wish there was no need for our organization, that in a country as affluent and rich with resources as ours no one would need to sleep in a car, or in a doorway, or even in a shelter.
But there is a need, and it’s growing. So, again, you have our gratitude.
And our mission was not really to draw attention to the work we at REACH and many organizations do to try to help the least among us, the hungry and homeless, the victims of abuse, the children who are denied childhoods and instead face danger and the unknown every day. It was to draw attention to them.
For in a bizarre but very understandable way, they are invisible. Like landmarks, street signs, statues, and shops, we pass by every day and pay no attention, until human beings suffer in front of us and we don’t see them.
It’s understandable because if we see them, if we acknowledge their pain that needs more than just an aspirin, most of us would feel compelled to help. And we don’t know how. So we look away, and eventually develop a blind spot that allows us to go about our business without having to imagine a very specific kind of horror.
So our hope is that if Reach Awareness Week did anything, it improved your vision. It allowed you to see. It drew your attention, and your attention is what is needed.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another,” said Charles Dickens.
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed,” said Maya Angelou.
“No one has ever become poor by giving,” wrote Anne Frank.
And, perhaps most importantly, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has,” said Margaret Mead.
Never doubt that you can change the world, and the world becomes changeable, bit by bit, person by person, life by life.
Because these are not statues. And now, we hope, more of us will understand that.
And if a small group can change the world, let’s get a bigger group and see what happens.
Again, we’re grateful for your support, for your comments, for your visits to this site and our social media presence. We’re grateful that you’ve chosen to help us help. We need you.
And if and when the day comes that REACH closes its doors, no longer necessary in a community that values each of its citizens?
We will be grateful then. Especially then.