As Others See It:Everyday angels

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The Independent Online
Everyday angels

THE great issues are the same as they were when Charles Dickens created the ghost of Jacob Marley, misanthropic man of business.

"Mankind was my business," the spectre cried, the lesson learned too late. "The common welfare was my business." ... This morning I could visit Tavern on the Green, where the Robin Hood Foundation is having its annual breakfast. Founded by three anti-Marleys, Wall Street traders who cleaned up big time in the 1980s and decided to invest in empathy, the foundation gives money to groups that shelter, feed and fight for the city's poor.

They do dazzle, the everyday angels, just as the angel did in the Christmas story, scaring the wits out of the shepherds. But the angel said "Fear not," and that's what I've learned from its contemporary counterparts - the rape counsellors, the good cops, the nuns, the librarians. Life will be hard, politics will be mean, money will be scarce, bluster will be plentiful. Yet somehow good will be done.

The great issues are the same as they were when the 15-year-old Anne Frank, three weeks shy of discovery in her attic hideaway, less than a year from death in Bergen-Belsen, wrote in her shabby plaid diary "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.'

Anna Quindlen in the `New York Times'