Sunday, August 18, 2013

Paying it forward

On our local CBS station here in Phoenix, they have a weekly segment called "Paying It Forward" on their 10 o'clock news.  The stories are always heartwarming and I enjoy hearing about these wonderful people who "pay it forward".

It works like this:  Someone contacts KPHO (CBS affiliate) to tell them why they'd like to help someone.  The stories are so varied: an elderly person who doesn't have air conditioning, a disabled person who needs a ramp, a kid whose bike was stolen, a sick little girl who wishes for a doll, a person who volunteers at a food kitchen even though that person is homeless, kids who don't have money for school needs, or someone who is doing good in the community even though that person has very little, etc.

So, a letter is written to KPHO explaining why the letter writer would like to help out, the station provides $500 to the letter writer and together, they seek out the recipient to present the money.  It's always in cash.

You have no idea how much this gesture means to those who receive the money.  The expressions on their faces is something to behold.

What this segment does is highlight the good done by not only the person making the request, but by the people who are on the receiving end.  Many of these quietly live their lives, doing good things in their neighborhood or community, helping others even though they, themselves, have little or no resources.  A $500 "windfall" is truly a gift.  What many do after receiving the money is ply it right back into helping others.

"Paying It Forward" doesn't have to include money.  A helping hand, an offer of a ride for errands or a doctor's appointment, an offer to pick up groceries for a homebound person are all ways to "pay it forward'.  It's an easy thing to do and it does your heart good.  Try it.  You'll feel so good.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friendship vs. Acquaintanceship

Distance takes its toll.  I really miss my Connecticut friends and the wonderful times we spent together.  We forged a special bond with each which we treasure beyond measure.

But it's not the same here.  We've met such wonderful people but they are not exactly the same kind of friends.  They are lovely acquaintances.  We met through a common organization and do things together because of the organization.  'Socializing' or just getting together as friends do is not something that occurs.

Life doesn't often offer the chance to create a family of friends.  We've lived around the country and in almost all the places we've lived we met people whose friendships we cherish.  Most of those 'family of friends friendships' have lasted for decades.  As we moved from place to place it was unbearably difficult to leave people we had come to love.  I can count on both my hands who these people are.  And we've been fortunate to have that many.  

The problem is they are not here.  Yet the closeness that we once shared has not been broken by the thousands of miles that separate us now. But they are not here, not close by, not close enough to share holidays, activities, trips, life.  Sometimes I wish I could freeze the picture I carry in my mind and heart of those days. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I am a Proud Liberal. How did I get this way?

I am a child of the beat generation.  I am a child of the 60's.  I am a child of the era of free love.  I am also a child of the working poor. And I am a child of a diverse city of ethnic differences.

In recalling all those years, I never saw "color", I never saw "wealth", I never saw "ethnic differences".  All I saw were kids who were friends, acquaintances, popular and not so popular.  We liked doing the things kids do together, whether at school or at camp or at the local "Y".  We had a community center where everyone mingled and, in doing so, we got to know each other pretty well. There was no room for hatred because of skin color, religion, or ethnic background.

I grew up in a city of Jews, Catholics, Protestants, black, white, many from Eastern Europe or Ireland, Holocaust survivors, rich, middle class, poor and struggling, all hard working families with an interest in making the city a great place to live. The diversity was never an issue.  No one disparaged anyone else.

I was surrounded by good people, people who cared for those less fortunate, who demonstrated caring, compassion, and understanding.  I was brought up to be kind to others. Sometimes it was a tough lesson but a lesson learned, nevertheless.

Given my background, is it any wonder that I grew up thinking that most everyone, at least in my city, got along for the most part.  I, personally never encountered bigotry, racism or anti-Semitism.  Is it any wonder why I grew up to believe in the liberal, progressive philosophy, respectful of individual rights and freedoms, open to new opinions, free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant with a liberal attitude toward others.

And now, I look at what this country is becoming and I weep at all the outright hatred and loathing a whole segment of the population shows to others.  I look at the Tea Party section of the Republican Party and cringe at their utter bigotry, racism and complete stupidity, their utter lack of respect and compassion for those who serve: military, firefighters, police officers, teachers, nurses; those who are poor; the elderly; the sick; children; the low wage workforce.  Their thinking is so convoluted, so utterly lacking in compassion or understanding.  They are fed lies which they believe because they have no desire to check facts out for themselves and they have no critical thinking skills.  Life, to them, is summed up in sound bites that they get from nasty, bigoted, homophobic, religious nut jobs.  They don't understand that LIFE IS MORE THAN SOUND BITES.