A Helping Hand
It is the depths of winter, and even if you live in warm and sunny climes, I suspect you feel, in the events of our times, a foreboding sense that this is “the winter of our discontent.” Now in the annual turning of the seasons, winter is followed by spring. Let us hope we are at a nadir, with a blossoming of hope and health emerging in the months ahead.
We fill a lot of space here in this newsletter elucidating, deciphering, and analyzing much of what is wrong with this country and the larger world. In response, we seek our balance - a sense of “steady” - by placing our current crises into the broader contexts of historical perspective. We also recognized we can find our footing in listening to, and leaning on, each other.
One of our goals for Steady, as this publication enters its second year, is to highlight positive actions we can take to help each other. We believe that those who are willful agents of destruction are far outnumbered by those who are builders of optimism. Sadly, it’s a lot easier to tear something down than to fashion something new. But we cannot forget where the balance lies, or how we can all help tilt the seesaw of hope on the side of empathy and justice.
We find a lot of this sentiment echoed in your comments, and we wanted to share this excerpt of a comment we received that speaks directly to this topic, from Dr Phyllis Fredericksen:
A friend passed along words from the deacon at her church. He said that each one of us is capable of doing a small act of kindness each day. His contention is that these simple acts will combine to make great change in our world. I feel this is so true. It’s something each of us can contribute…
Simple acts of kindness are not so simple in their impact. When people ask me what they can do in the face of fear and despair, I often give some version of the answer, help someone in need. Just reach out. It can be a phone call to someone lonely (or even to someone who projects strength, they aren’t asked enough how they are doing). It can be joining with others to clean up trash in a park, or volunteering in a school, or running an errand for someone who cannot make it out of the house.
This leads to a comment we got from Marcia Peterson, who painted an inspiring scene. I think we can all picture ourselves looking out from that window, and I suspect Ms. Peterson is not the only one who can revel with pride in their children’s eagerness to help.
With the dogs barking, I glanced out my front window and there was my oldest son (now a man with his own family) spreading “ice melt” and tending to my sidewalk. Even though the grandkids will be disappointed that there’s no snow, tears filled my eyes … what a good son! And my other son, an emergency doc, is also a terrific man, one who has contended with the overwhelming demands of the Covid pandemic for the past two years. My love for them is unlimited. This is a good life! Now their “steady” is obvious…
You understand the sacrifices parents make during the raising of their children. Our goal was to remove (for them) the obstacles we had had to overcome financially while striving to complete our own educational dreams. Son #1 has two university degrees, son #2 is the ED doctor, and also, our daughter, earned her PhD. All are married, have their own families, and we know that every struggle, every camping trip instead of destination vacations, countless late-night talks, and a few other kids they brought home for meals or to stay with our family for many months, set them on their current courses. My late mother-in-law used to say, “You have to pay for your raising.” Fact: there are many ways to accomplish said statement … but to plan ahead, use kindness, be fair, and stay “steady”, works.
This is what life can be, about giving of yourself to help others, of raising a generation with the instinct to continue to be of service in ways large and small. It is the hope we can carry forth, recognizing that we can set in motion waves of positivity stretching into the future.
Of course, there are many actions that can, should, and indeed must, be taken on a national level, like organizing, voting, etc. These are important. But the bonds of society are held together as much by everyday actions within our communities and between individuals. That is why it’s important, if possible, to reach out to those outside of your immediate circle. Forging connections across our divisions of race, wealth, age, and politics strengthen us as people and as a nation.
I thought perhaps today we can use the comments section to share your own stories of helpfulness, and what you have witnessed in others. Let us shine some warmth in the midst of a cold winter.
I wanted to thank you all again for continuing to build this online community. We encourage all who have not signed up to the newsletter to consider doing so. We want as many voices as possible enriching our discourse.