BEFORE George Bush's much lampooned ``thousand points of light'' fades from sight, let's take a closer look. Such efforts to insert poetic images into politics either click or crash. This one seemed to quickly spiral downward amid puzzled looks and smirks. ``What does it mean?'' seemed the general response. Still, there is something to the candidate's metaphor. If it calls to mind the thousands of Americans doing worthwhile things in their communities - helping others, building understanding, doing their small part for a better world - it's an image that defies a smirk.
We're reminded of some recent stories buried in the back of newspapers:
About Balbir Mathur, a naturalized American from Kansas whose organization, Trees for Life, helps fight world hunger by planting fruit trees in his native India and other parts of the developing world.
About the high school kids in Gould, Ark., who campaigned to have a teacher rehired after she had let slip a racial slur in class. ``Why would this woman move to this town with more blacks than whites if she's a bigot? She just made a bad mistake and we decided she deserved a second chance,'' said Ray Rainey III, a senior at the school.
About the program in Coolidge Senior High in Washington, D.C., to give inner-city kids a chance to discover the excitement of a career in teaching - at a time when the United States desperately needs more minority teachers.
The list, we have no doubt, could grow indefinitely. Americans are a people with a will to help others - despite the selfishness apparent in much current-day culture. Mr. Bush was right to note that. And Michael Dukakis is just as right to note that most Americans want a government that makes an effort to aid the truly needy.
May the thousand points of light multiply, and may Washington join in their spirit.