A Porch Swing Point of View: Sticking Together

Facebook. Time-wasting, fake news-purveying, argument-inciting, drama-ridden Facebook.  ‘Round countless Thanksgiving tables, “Facebook Scrolling Syndrome” took full hold of family and friends alike last week.  But fuss though we do, every now and then, a kernel of worthwhile information, however miniscule, appears.  Such was the case as the inspiration for this essay came upon me as I took part in a post-Thanksgiving dinner Facebook scroll. 

I came upon a video of two young men, likely in their twenties, approaching a woman they’d just watched pay for her gasoline in pennies.  They presented her with a few $20 bills and were taken aback when she revealed her husband died just a few weeks earlier and though the couple had never had financial problems, she was now in a precarious position.  Aghast by the young men’s kindness, the woman asked the men why they’d given her the money.  Their reply struck a deep chord for me:  “Because we have to take care of each other—we’ve gotta stick together.”  Let that simple reply sink in.  “We’ve gotta stick together.”  Imagine a world of people sticking together—unfathomable, right?  Rather now imagine your county, your town, your neighborhood.  It seems more possible.  We can take care of each other, even on the smallest of scales. 

Perhaps, like me, you’ve spent days indulging in Thanksgiving delicacies:  the turkey, the stuffing, and the pie (oh my!).  As we gathered as a family to eat, to laugh, and to eat some more, it occurred to me that our families are often prime examples of looking out for each other.  We try to see that each of our relations is fed, clothed, and cared for in the best way possible.  Of course, we fall short from time to time.  We allow grudges, bull-headedness, and our own busyness to interfere in our care.  If this occurs in our own families, how much easier is it for us to fail our neighbors in the same way?  Often we put on blinders in such a way that we don’t even see the needs around us.

However, some individuals keep their eyes wide open to the plight of others, put aside their own busyness and spend countless hours in the pursuit of “taking care of each other.”  For example, the folks at the Parish House in Upshur County base their entire operation on serving neighbors.  They provide food and clothing to those who have need and are the epitome of the community “sticking together.”  We, too, can reach out to those in need on our own as well.

In my next few columns, I intend to present “challenges” to my readers.  These challenges will take minimal effort, but are sure to provide a great opportunity for self-growth.  And as with any true challenge, the challenger—the columnist, will participate as well. 

This month, I’d like to begin by challenging my readers to this task:  Between now and the end of 2018, contribute a food item to the Parish House, a local food bank or a friend or neighbor you personally know is in need.  Do this with the understanding that we are “taking care of each other.”  It seems small, but as Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”  Perhaps you will even make a habit of it. 

As the chill of winter sets in, warm your soul in knowing we’re all in this journey of life together.  Looking out for the less fortunate, standing up for the marginalized, and truly caring for our fellow man is a challenging, yet worthy cause.  May this experience richly bless you as you prepare for the holiday season.