When we remember the good things, not the bad, like somebody’s impulsive slight, but the noble, the kind things done in the name of the good ethos that has usually prevailed in the Christian West (at a cost), we are handing on what succeeding generations will value. I have helped others because of the nuns and clerics who have helped me.

Hey, my helpers haven’t all been do-gooders. There was the adulterer who gave me a tax break, who kept California from admitting mid-Eastern terrorists (to some extent), and there was the nasty college professor who assigned readings against my fondest beliefs. But it all did me good.

What doesn’t kill me will strengthen me, at least here in the West. Some of the greatest contributors to this civilization are unknown, unassuming people who blend into the background. Thank God there’s enough of them.

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