We Are Not Powerless

helping handHere in the U.S., we are overwhelmed. Once again, a madman with guns — more guns than anybody can defend. Once again, innocents sent running for their lives. Once again, two sides of the political spectrum disagree on the solution. Once again, once again, once again.

We are stupefied, frozen in fear and disgust and dismay and horror. Powerless, many strike out verbally, fed up with history stuck on an infinite loop. Powerless, many hide under their covers, stare too long at their screens, freeze into inactivity.

But you are not without power.

Coincidentally, yesterday I lost electricity at my house, which also serves as my office. Without electricity, I not only don’t have lights, I don’t have internet or coffee, either. I can’t open my fridge or use the microwave. Essentially, the only thing I can do is go online on my phone until the battery runs out or crawl into bed with a book. It was tempting. Instead, i moved around my week’s schedule and ran errands that I’d been putting off.

My point? You can always do SOMETHING. When the winds of chaos threaten to blow you off course, find your anchor. You only need one.

It’s been a heck of a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade, a lifetime — you name it. And it will likely remain so, in one way or another, until your death. Generations before us have faced calamities, both personal and public. And they got through them, even when it felt like the sky was falling down. Someday, that end might come. But until then, you’ve got life to live.

Take back your power — there are a million ways. Match your actions to your concerns. Volunteer to walk a shelter dog, bring meals to the homebound elderly, build homes for the homeless, record audio for the blind, canvas for a political party. Start your own grassroots organization. Organize a blood drive. Get to know your neighbors. Donate books or sponsor classrooms in economically disadvantaged schools.

When you do this, you not only feed your spirit, but you play an important part in breaking down barriers — perceived or real — between groups. And if ever there was a time for breaking down barriers, this is it.

I’ve long loved the saying attributed to Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers.” But those words are intended to comfort children. We’re adults.

WE are the helpers. It’s time to help.

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