Thursday, November 19, 2009

Help Yourself (And Others)

Help yourself has always been a prevalent phrase in our lives whether it was at the dinner table or as part of a motivational speech. You could even hear it in sermons as in, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” Unfortunately over the years many of us have taken those words and turned them into a license for greed.

While the economy was flying high and money was flowing into our pockets by way of our jobs or our stock market portfolio the greed largely went unnoticed. But greed is addictive and something happened on our way to that cushy retirement we felt entitled to, the economy crashed.

The phrase ‘Help yourself’ suddenly became synonymous with ‘Learn another skill’ and survival meant taking or competing for a lower paying job. Unfortunately for many the route back to school is filled with potholes and not one we will be taking anytime soon. The skills we learned and honed so many years ago are now viewed under the microscope and compared with those of six billion others.

The fact that the World is now considered flat when it comes to business and information does not bode well for those of us in our so-called Golden years. In fact it isn’t that great for those not yet sporting the Golden adjective.

So what happens when, due to no fault of our own we are in danger of losing the home that we worked so hard to gain? How do we cope with the fear of losing our job or livelihood? Naturally each of us must decide for ourselves how long we can exist on our savings and how soon we must chart a new course for our future. The time is as always, now.

I have confidence that our country will eventually stem the tide of bad economic news and we will figure out a way to get back on our feet. After all, haven’t we done it before?

But as we struggle to find new ways to support ourselves and gain back our lost security we are losing sight of an entire community of people who struggle merely for existence.

When I was young we watched public service announcements about children starving in other countries. Perhaps we even made jokes when Sally Struthers told us about Kim Yuk needing one dollar on which to live for a month but it wasn’t funny then and it certainly isn’t now.

While I personally attempt to rejoin my old industry I have also become involved with a charitable organization whose goal is to help those most vulnerable, children with disabilities. Children are our future and while our present is in need of being fixed we cannot lose sight of that. I chose the Bright Steps Forward organization but there are many others that would welcome volunteers.

Why is this so important? Because while another phrase we grew up with was, "Charity begins at home" we must make sure it does not also end there!

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