By Rudey Downey
Special to The Star
As Ed Smith spoke about the lessons he has taken from his life, his optimism and insight captured admiration and, at times, disbelief and laughter from those attending the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal dinner Tuesday evening.
Smith spoke about three lessons that he has taken from life. He delivered them all with a story showcasing the longtime columnist’s sense of humor.
His first lesson was simple: Don’t judge people too quickly.
“Don’t jump to conclusions on what you think they’re going to think,” said Smith. “Always take people at their face value.”
Smith has spoken at a few Red Shield dinners before, but has been giving speeches for organizations like the Knights of Columbus and the Pentecostal church for 40 years.
Smith’s second lesson comes from when he had just lost the use of his legs. It was a trying time but he took one valuable lesson from it.
You can’t lose your dignity.
“That applies to a great deal in life,” said Smith. “Your sense of pride, your sense of worth and your faith. No one can take it from you if you don’t want to give it away.”
Smith’s third lesson comes from his experience with claustrophobia as a young man, and then when he had to get used to using elevators once he was confined to a wheelchair: only you can decide if you’re a cripple or not.
“You can be crippled emotionally as some of you may very well be in this room,” said Smith. “There are times where my wife will gently remind me: ‘Are you a cripple or what? Are you doing it or what?’”
Around 150 people attended the relaunch of the Corner Brook Red Shield Appeal, after the event took a hiatus for a number of years.
Programs involved with the appeal in the area include life skill programs, correctional justice programs and summer camps for kids.
Smith sees the Red Shield Appeal as an important resource for people who are reaching out for help in Newfoundland.
“It affects everyone who has a problem with hunger, a problem with homelessness, a problem with keeping ends together,” he said. “It affects everyone.”
Smith plans to keep giving speeches for as long as he can, but uses his well-known sense of humor to provide a good reason why.
“I always say I’ll do them because it’ll help me get to heaven.”