Neighborly love

Ponder This

T.R. WilliamsFebruary 27, 2013 

Following the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Conn., I watched in amazement how, as a nation, we came together to comfort our own. It brought to mind the tragic scene following Hurricane Sandy. Americans came forth helping Americans, even more it seems than our own president did. It was comforting to see fellow countrymen coming to the aid of one another, even as their own lives were being torn apart.

I wonder how it is that such a simple notion is now more a surprise than the norm? We show sympathy in such times, yet why not so much in our everyday lives? How many times have we passed by that stranded motorist, never looking back? What about the homeless man on the street corner, enduring 100+ degree weather that could really use the extra water bottle sitting untouched in the cupholder?

When was it that we stopped freely opening our hearts, our wallets and our homes to those in dire situations? Even a simple smile can be of great worth to a hurting soul, and those are free -- yet this small task often seems too much to ask.

We come together as a nation to raise millions of dollars to help the disaster victims in a matter of hours, and yet we are watching our neighbors lose their homes, small businesses folding before our eyes, cars being repossessed, jobs being lost. Having been raised in a tiny community where we lent a hand if a friend needed help repairing their roof, patching their driveway, getting a store of wood in before the winter cold hit, I am appalled at this new trend.

When a house needed a fresh coat of paint, we all pulled together and helped. I recall a large group of men and women helping search the surrounding woods for a lost pet one summer. These little acts of kindness seem to be a thing of the past, though I have yet to understand why.

Isn't it interesting that our sense of community and generosity have been gradually replaced with debauchery, slander and a ravenous, insatiable need for self-gratification and immorality? How did we move from "Leave It To Beaver" into a world drowning in video games where the goal is to slaughter as many as one can? Does it really take 27 deaths in a grammar school massacre to make us rethink the negative impact of glamorizing murder and mayhem? Such an appalling reality makes me grimace.

What happened to us that we traded in Mayberry for a street of wickedly conniving women on Wisteria Lane, and called it entertainment? Was it such a subtle shift in thinking that we really haven't noticed?

A few years ago I was plowed down on Highway 41 by an "inattentive" R.V.-wielding tourist from Switzerland. Unless one can declare the rental company negligent, that $10 million policy they have on every unit is untouchable. This reality left me stunned, and with my immense injuries, utterly buried in hospital and rehabilitation debt. But what came after is what truly infuriated me.

The unnamed opposing council informed me that there would be triple the payout for me if I would alter my recollection. They wanted me to lie so as to cover the truth and in turn I would be paid for said dishonesty. This is what the world has come to. My parents would have rolled over in their graves if I had given in. Some of you might be grumbling at these words. I realize there are those of us whom still have it in our hearts to reach out to those in need. What I am saying is simply that we are no longer the norm, and that is disturbing, don't you agree?

How repulsive is it that in the attempt to protect your own property and the safety of your family, one very possibly may wind up behind bars? I read a story of a home owner sent to prison for shooting an intruder attempting to rape his daughter. I think about the wronged homeowner that was sued by the robber that cut himself coming through the very window he broke entering the home, and won.

The madness makes me wonder what can we do as the underdog in a rapidly degrading society. Write our TV stations, insisting on more wholesome programming, demand those gruesome video games be banned? Maybe stop the next time you see a woman's car broken down on the shoulder of the road -- offer that street beggar a bottle of water and an encouraging word?

I propose we all, each and every one of us, take the time to make someone else top priority. Be a blessing to those in need, lend kindness every chance we have, and simply be a true reflection of those that came before us -- when family, friends, and, yes, even strangers, truly mattered. With baby steps maybe we can get a little "Mayberry" back in this heavily narcissistic world in which we live.

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