I guess the Circle of Love all started a long time ago…..maybe 35-40 years. It was nothing, really. I had a lot of friends from all over, from refugee and immigrant communities to folks who lived on boats, skid-row types, petty criminals, doctors, lawyers, roller-hockey players….you know, the mish-mash of people one gets to know as you get on with getting on?
Side note: You should have seen our wedding…it was a masquerade ball because everyone invited was so different and from such weird walks-of-life we thought we could break the social barriers by having them in costume. It worked remarkably well.
Then, as I worked as a mediator and arbitrator, I added to the list along with neighbours and friends and kind encounters with strangers. It was not a real list. It was just a running mental list of people who were ‘good people’ and who could be counted on to be ethical and fair and kind to someone in need. I would guess that, at any given time, there were only about 15 to 20 ‘active members’ who, in fact, did not even KNOW they were members. It was really just me keeping a list of who was naughty and who was nice and I would check that list more than twice. Ho Ho Ho.
Anyway, one of them was a young man at the time. He was going through some kind of hell and I helped him out. After a year or so, he was into clean air and tacking well to windward. He was free. We stayed friends. And there was another and I helped him and then he and I were friends. One day the first guy needed some kind of special skill and the second guy had that skill and I introduced them.
“B, this is S. He needs 123-doing and you are the best I know at that. He’s in the Circle. Go help him”.
‘B’ said, “What’s the circle?” I explained that good guys get help from other good guys and we do it freely because we know they will do the same for others. They may even do the same for us someday but that would just be a coincidence. You are in the Circle because the love goes out to the good who need it.”
“Wow! I am part of that?”
“Yeah. Think of it as being part of a type of Rotary or Lions service club or something without the breakfast meetings. And the demands on your time might happen only once in lifetime.”
“Dude! You’ve been in for the last three years. Now go call S and help him out.”
” I don’t know this ‘S’ guy.”
“Just say, ‘Dave sent me’. That should do it. If you don’t like him or don’t want to do it, do not do it. You are totally free but you are obligated to meet him, look at the issue and, if you can, do your best. That’s it.”
And S and B became friends. And so did maybe twenty guys get called and every time, the term Circle of Love was invoked and strangers helped out strangers. It is a great system and there are no dues.
S called me the other day. “Dave, shouldn’t we all know who is in the Circle of Love? I mean, I am now doing pretty good and I am more well positioned than so many people during this virus, shouldn’t we all meet one another and see what we can do to help one another?”
“Well, the CoL was never intended to be obligatory. Someone would call and someone would be called and that was basically it. But I see your point – they all went through me. And that should be remedied, I suppose. My problem today is that some of the members are older than me. W is now 90. H is 90. I have more than a few J’s in their late 80’s. I would venture to say that some in the circle are of little use now.”
“All the more reason to organize a meeting and draft some youth. We can’t let this slip away.”
So, I am thinking of doing that. But I coined the phrase, Circle of Love, as a word-joke. I rarely use the term. The only members were hairy guys who didn’t even really know there was a CoL unless they called for help or got called to get help. Only S liked the name so much, it endured.
My friend D in Hong Kong has been a HUGE help to so many, only a few of which were CoL members. That is just who he is. Same for D and most of the J’s. Many members would be surprised to get a call for any other reason than to ‘just go help somebody’. If there is anything special about it, it is that they do it for a stranger who then, inevitably becomes a friend.
The reality is that the CoL is not a circle at all. It is more like the Olympic Rings, interlocking. S has his own circle of which I am a member. BK, D and D and D and the J’s all have their own circles. It is NOT an organization, it is an affiliation of good eggs. And the influence is way wider than just the members who do not even know they are members.
Craig at Comox Fountain Tire acted in exactly that CoL manner the night we had the flat tire on our way to the hospital. He was not (then) in the CoL. And I do not know him well enough to call it official but, if there was anyone in that area that needed that kind of help, I’d call Craig and say, “Circle of Love, man. Go help this woman. Her name is S and she is near you. If you charge, I’ll pay. She’s poor. If you don’t charge and do a good job, you are in the CoL officially.”
He’d say, “Who is this? Is this a phone scam-thing?”
So, I would re-introduce myself and provide an explanation and I have never been disappointed yet. He’d go. She’d get help. They’d be friends. That’s how it works.
Now, dear reader, don’t be silly as you envision all this….if Craig had to replace a tire or fix something, he might charge. He may have costs. CoL does not mean free. It means ‘YOUR TIME AND YOUR CARING IS FREE. Any real outlay of expenses and parts are the recipients cost. You can waive them or collect them, your call. The only real requirement is that you help NOW and you are the best you can be.’
God, the world is weird, eh?