The new normal for one American couple, Matthew and Cole Record, seems to be working independently on social causes. Residents of Columbus, Ohio, the Records volunteered for an interview online with me to discuss the social and political causes that the two have been involved in. However, the interview quickly shifted to give a glimpse into a new standard that may have gone unnoticed by regular Americans. It may even be a glimpse into the positive changes in American society and the world around us.
“I’ve helped to raise money for my sister’s school before – organizations that educate people with developmental disabilities,” said Matthew, a professor at Ohio State University, “I know neither of us ever have for a specific political cause of candidate. Just for the kind of things anyone would donate to, charities, schools, local organizations, that type of thing.”
Matthew has spent years invested in charitable work such as aiding soup kitchens at the college ministry, youth groups, and donating to charity. He has made a hobby of playing in a band with his friends called “Fortune and Spirits,” which is a reference to the group’s strong belief in religious tolerance and faith in a higher power. When asked about working with his wife on political campaigns or charitable works, Matthew explained:
“My wife and I have never done charitable work together – my band has done some fundraisers in the past and a few of them have been to help her cousin raise money for travel to the developing world to work with animals.” said Matthew. He continued, “She helped organize those a little bit but even then it was only maybe a couple hours of work total. We’ve never worked together directly on a project – charitable or otherwise.”
When asked if there were any particular reasons for the lack of team work in helping social and political causes, Matt treated it as a regular question and was not offended by the prodding into what the reasons for this independence from each other were. He answered, “Not, really. Maybe we’re just non-charitable people but I feel like the phrasing of the question assumes that most couples do charity work together and that’s not been my experience… It’s not unheard of or anything but I wouldn’t say it’s common.”
“Would there be any reason why neither of you worked on a charity together though? And I apologize if this question brings any offense.” I pressed further to see if there were any other reasons that hadn’t come to mind. To this Matthew replied, “I’m not offended. It’s just not how we spend our time. I actually reached out to a local organization in Columbus a few times to start tutoring kids but I never got a response…. I write, I play music, that eats up a lot of my free time. I’m the faculty advisor for a couple clubs on campus here. I guess that’s sort of like charity. My wife likes to scrapbook and read. Before that I was working fulltime and going to school fulltime for about 4 years so I didn’t really have time.”
After speaking in length, Matthew explained why there was such a difference in charity work and what motivated each of them to give it their all for the charities that respectively believed in.
“I am very mercenary with who I support. I see politicians and causes as policy delivery systems and if they do something I don’t like I’m willing to drop them quickly. My wife hasn’t done much charity work and mine is more like civic organizations then traditional charity.” said Matthew. “I used to volunteer at a soup kitchen now and then with my campus ministry in college. But mostly it’s like church involvement, organizing clubs, organizing events (like shows), etc. I don’t, like, work with the red cross or anything like that.”
Evidently, the Record family is humble about their helpful nature and do not view their contributions to society as important because it doesn’t compare to relief aid workers in foreign countries. Matthew went on to further downplay his good deeds and explained why his wife hasn’t been as active. “My wife is an introvert and a homebody – it’s not that she doesn’t want to be helpful, it’s that she finds it stressful to go out and be constantly meeting new people; though we have discussed getting involved together with a church. We haven’t actually done it,” claims Matthew. The couple is still deliberating on what charities to help next and don’t find their contributions, aid, or kindness to be out of character from what they consider normal.
The Records are an example for why the public often does not hear about the great charity work going on. Perhaps we simply don’t hear about the good people because they are too bashful and silent about their good deeds. People like the Records do not feel the need to publicize their good works or good behavior for attention. What may also be a contributing factor is that good deeds do not draw as much attention within the media as the heinous crimes that occur throughout the world. News about negative occurrences are more attention grabbing, shocking, and memorable than the deeds of the average good citizen who kindly helps others and doesn’t ask for anything in return.
Are we seeing how couples have changed social dynamics or could these positive qualities be far more common and persistent throughout both the US and the globe? If we have normalized such good behavior and see nothing extraordinary about helping each other, then perhaps that speaks volumes for how we humans have changed in our behavior towards each other.
Perhaps the Records are a distinctly unique group of kind-hearted people, or perhaps these independent acts of kindness are the new normal for people around the world? Whatever the case, it is always enlightening to hear about good people that are willing to help others.