anne mikolay 2012 120There’s a lot of trash and triviality on Facebook, all of it “liked”, all of it “shared”. There’s also an old saying, “you reap what you sow”, which gives me pause. Exactly what am I sowing when I “like” or “share” something on Facebook? How will my posts affect the world? Exactly what am I putting out there every day? One can argue that the non-viral posts of a middle-aged nobody such as myself will not have significant ramifications to society, but the domino effect says otherwise. In these uncertain times, we need more “feel good” posts and less garbage. We need hope.

Hope, often elusive, is that inspiring feeling of trust that pushes us forward. People like to tell the downtrodden “there’s always hope”. Is there? Point to it. Where is it? Such platitudes do little more than discourage and promote alienation. Don’t tell someone in need “there’s always hope”; give them something tangible to hold on to. Nobody struggling with faith will believe in hope if they can’t see it. Make them see it. Show them. Be their hope. This may sound like a load of feel-good, New Age you-know-what, but it’s possible. And this is where the domino effect comes in. How you treat others, what you “put out there”, has a rippling effect.

Case in point: when my mother passed away many years ago, I was crushed. She was my best friend, my shining light. I struggled to hold it together during her funeral. As I followed the coffin out of the church, my mom’s friend, a total stranger to me, reached out as I passed and supportively took my hand. That one seemingly simple gesture touched my heart and gave me courage to make it through the rest of that day and the hope that I would make it through all the days ahead. That woman showed me the way.

Yesterday, I saw a youtube video that far more effectively makes my case and illustrates how the actions of one person can dramatically uplift another. The video, a clip of a 2014 segment on ABC World News Tonight, profiles a Memorial Sloan Kettering employee who embodies hope. As a Guest Service Representative for the past 17 years, Mr. Nick Medley greets patients visiting MSK for treatment. He makes it his business to know each patient’s name and purpose; nobody passes Mr. Medley’s desk without receiving a smile and a healthy dose of sincere encouragement. A one-man public relations specialist for humanity itself, Nick Medley is an inspiration. By dispensing smiles and hugs, Mr. Medley reminds the suffering that they are people, not just patients. He knows the truth of hope, that it is a seed implanted in another, a small gesture, a smile, something to be shared. That seed takes hold and blossoms. That’s the rippling, domino effect of goodness. I learned it from the stranger at my mother’s funeral. And countless people have learned the same from Nick Medley. Bravo, Mr. Medley! The world needs more people like you.

Do yourself a favor. Bypass Facebook’s nonsense and watch Nick Medley on Youtube instead. You’ll see hope in action. You’ll learn the importance of what you put out into the world. We all need hugs and hope. If you give a smile and hope to another person, it will flow back to you.