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February 2009 Editorial

We will suffer less if we share our wealth in money, goods and love

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America,” said President Barack Obama in his inaugural address.

For most people under 50, “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off” probably has no meaning unless a grandmother told them that after they fell.

For those of us a bit older, it was a reminder of an imperfectly remembered song that tickled our memories.  Written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, the song was in the movie, “Swing Time,” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 

Why use a line from a frothy movie in an inaugural speech?

As I thought about it, I decided it fit.  The movie was made in 1936 in the middle of the Depression.  In that grim time, Hollywood made uplifting films to keep us going and frothy ones to keep us cheerful.

By the way, the next line is, “Start all over again.”

We don’t need to start all over again.  Our founders gave us a good start.  What we need to do is reclaim the ideals our country is built on and rebuild what has been tumbling down around us.  As we have been warned by our new President, it is not going to be easy or fast.

One way to facilitate the process is to hold onto the spirit we felt within ourselves and around us during our December snowstorms.

Neighborliness, kindness, thoughtfulness, a few extra steps or telephone calls, community, the common good: these were all reflected in reports of people helping people during our December snowstorms.

Letters to the editor thanked neighbors who used plows or snow blowers to clear driveways and make mailboxes accessible.  In various conversations, we learned of grocery shopping done for some who couldn’t go out and people being taken to medical appointments.

Don Young, project supervisor for the Washington Reading Corps, tells of being outside with his wife, both of them trying to do a bit of berm busting, when a young man used his plow to clear away the berm. 

The answer to Don’s question, “What can we do for you?”  was, “The Union Gospel Mission needs warm hats and gloves.” 

Their driveway was no longer blocked, so Jan and Don went shopping and delivering.

In a move reminiscent of the owner of the Polartec factory keeping his employees on the payroll while the factory was rebuilt after a fire, the management of Rosauer’s grocery stores is keeping employees of the store at Francis and Maple on the payroll while the snow-damaged roof is being rebuilt.  These employees will work at other locations when replacement workers are needed.

We were shoveled out from the first snowfall by Santa and an elf in mufti.  A niece and her husband do the elf and Santa turn at neighborhood gatherings, nursing homes and other locations.

As the snow becomes gray and unattractive, we’re increasingly tired of it and maybe a bit snappish.

However, the motivation that contributed to the positive experiences we had while digging out is still needed as we deal with our current national economic crisis.

According to the latest Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups think that the election of our first African-American President and our economic situation will result in growth for their organizations.

We need to hold fast to a sense of involvement and responsibility in our communities.  There could be a high price for not doing so.

There may be backlash with any election from those who feel disenfranchised, but we also have the choice to experience the abundant life that comes when people are generous, caring neighbors, caring citizens of the nation and world.

Our nation need not suffer long if we take each step forward to help where we are placed, to share our wealth in money, material goods and love.

Nancy Minard - Editorial Team

Copyright ©February 2009 - The Fig Tree