As you may know, here in the Northeast we have had not only a ton of snow, but unusually high winds, which meant that a lot of people lost power. Generally, the outages don’t last long, but sometimes they can last for days.
The Crankee Yankee and I only lost power for six hours. In those six hours we did some serious thinking, not only about our own situation but so many other’s. We grumble about no Internet, TV, lights, heat, etc. We can usually make an ‘outage party’ by making a smorgasbord of this and that in the refrigerator. We layer up in warm clothes, don our headlamps and prepare to “tough it out” until those hard-working and under-appreciated workers from the power company slog through the bad weather to get things up and running again.
But just imagine those who are alone, those who are hungry and cold, those who have no resources? It makes me ashamed to complain about anything. We are privileged to have a roof over our heads, food in abundance, hot and cold running water, people who care about us, and so much, much more.
When my mother wrote and self-published her genealogy work on our family, she met and talked with so many elderly relatives. She heard stories from them of what it was like back when everyone farmed, hunted, fished, built their own homes, took in their old folks when they could no longer live alone.
There were tales of those who traveled by horse-drawn wagons who got caught in snowstorms. The men would stay up all night, keeping a fire going. When they didn’t have enough heavy clothes or blankets, the men warmed planks of wood over the fire and placed them over the children to keep them warm during those frigid nights.
If the hunters could not find game and the fisherman caught no fish, everyone went hungry. Where my mom grew up, her grandparents raised chickens and livestock, had gardens, and every man she knew hunted and fished. Her family lived on their own produce and deer meat was generally the staple protein.
I often think of those times and wonder how I would manage in a similar setting. It makes me grateful beyond grateful that I live in a time where I have a roof over my head, a refrigerator full of food, heat and light, and the conveniences to which we have become so accustomed.
I think of those who have so little, and, even in this country; go hungry more often than not. I think of those which no resources—no home, no family, no shelter, no access to food or education. I am ashamed when I hear myself complain about missing a TV show or a hot meal.
It may be that, years from now and long after I am gone, all people and animals will have what they need all the time. It may be that people will go back to the old and cherished beliefs such as helping those who need it—without judgement. Who am I to judge anyone? I know my own heart and mind, but I cannot know what is in someone else’s heart and mind.
These days when so many people stand in humility with cardboard signs, asking for food, money or work, I do my best not to judge. I know that there are many who scam people for money; in my opinion, that is on their soul, not mine. If I get that nudge to give someone some money, I do it. And when I do it, I look them in the eyes and talk with them.
How do I know what their circumstances are? Who am I to judge? In my life so far I have been given so much. How lucky are we that we not only have what we need, but sometimes get the opportunity to give back? We may never know what that stray dollar or quarter may mean to someone.