• Sometimes life surprises you and sometimes all it takes is death. The enormous outpouring of generosity since these tsunamis (search) comes to mind.

    Recently an old colleague called me up. I love him dearly, but he's a tightwad. And I do mean tight. He's the cheapest guy on the planet. Yet even he was moved to ask me, "What can I give? How can I help?"

    He too was mesmerized by this tsunami devastation. This man, who'd sooner sock it away then give even a buck of it away, was eager to give a lot of bucks away. Whatever it took and to whomever could help.

    It's happening all across the country and all across the world:

    The Girl Scout troop raising nickels and dimes.

    The newspaper delivery boy giving up a week's pay and forwarding it to his church.

    The impoverished parish foregoing a building campaign fund to raise money for something more pressing: relief to Asia — now.

    I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. September 11 comes close. Hurricane or tornado relief comes to mind too. But, given the sheer shock of this, the enormity of this, there's been nothing in my memory quite like this.

    My buddy said it best, when he remarked how he had just vacationed in the region hit: "There but by the grace of God could have gone I."

    I don't know what startled me more. That statement, or the fact this guy I wondered ever had a heart made it in the first place.

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