I have been involved in Boy Scouts one way or another almost continuously since I was nine years old. During that time the motto, “Do a Good Turn Daily,” has become, I think, a part of who I am. Perhaps it is even one of the reasons I write these articles.
The words of a familiar hymn come to mind:
Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and
made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been
helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
(“Have I Done Any Good?” Hymns, No. 223)
David B. Haight (The Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 36) recounted an experience that happened to the Clarence Neslen family in 1986. They were visiting Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, exploring the Columbia Ice Fields. They were having a great time jumping over crevasses in the famous Athabasca Glacier.
It was an exciting experience until 11-year old Cannon, attempting to jump across a crevasse, missed and fell into the deep chasm. He became wedged between the walls of ice. As his father looked down some thirty feet to where his son was trapped, he was further alarmed as he saw a river of icy water flowing beneath the crevasse.
The parents’ cries for help were answered by some young men who were also exploring the glacier but they had only a small rope and soon realized that it was not strong enough to pull Cannon to safety. If it broke, Cannon would most assuredly fall into the rushing river of freezing water.
Help was summoned from a nearby lodge and park rangers, located by radio, rushed to the scene. Hypothermia was setting in. Young Cannon’s shirt had been pushed up as he fell. His bare skin was pressed against the cold walls of the glacier.
To keep his son from unconsciousness, the father called down to him to keep praying, to wiggle his fingers and toes, and to sing his favorite songs.
The rangers drove spikes into the ice, ropes were attached to one of them and they attempted to lower him down to rescue the boy but the walls were too narrow. The only chance was to lower a looped rope and pray that Cannon was alert enough to grasp it and then have the strength to hold on as they tried to pull him out.
His father called down encouragement rousing his son sufficiently that Cannon’s icy fingers were able to catch hold of the rope. “Hold on with all of your might!” his father called down to him. Cannon was carefully pulled up—inch by inch, foot by foot—all thirty feet. When he was finally pulled to safety, he was unconscious. His fingers had frozen around the rope and had to be pried loose.
A paramedic took off his own coat and shirt and held Cannon against his bare chest so that his body heat would radiate to the boy. Cannon slowly responded to the loving care of his rescuers.
Now, we don’t have to do anything quite so dramatic in order to be of help to our fellow man. But David O. McKay said that “Man’s greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others.”
Jesus taught that “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:24)
Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives.
How often have we intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and we’ve left it for others to help, feeling that “oh, surely someone will take care of that need?”
An anonymous poet made the following observation:
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.
(The Improvement Era, May 1960)
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