Help Given is Help Received

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Have you ever driven down a street lined with beautiful homes and manicured lawns, and then right in the middle of the block there’s a home that looks completely out of place? The roof is old, the siding needs paint, the lawn is full of weeds and needs to be mowed, and dilapidated furnishings are strewn across the front porch. You wonder who could possibly live like that in such a neighborhood.

Well, trust me, the neighbors feel the same way. Every day they look out their window in dismay and shake their head as they drive past that one house to get to their own. Not only is it out of place and an eyesore, it’s dragging down the property values for every other home on the block. And for the people living there, it’s a quick way to wear out your welcome in an otherwise upscale neighborhood.

I say that as I look out my front window at two old gas grills sitting in front of my garage door because I haven’t yet been able to get rid of them. I could have dragged them into the back yard again, but I barely got them to the street the first time. I’m pretty sure if I put them back there again, that’s where they’ll stay.

We’ve all found ourselves in a situation where we see something unpleasant, something we’d rather not have to look at – the person on the street asking for food, that drug addict stumbling alongside a busy road. Or that shanty in the middle of the block that just won’t fall down.

Looking away is easy. It doesn’t make the problem go away – it just makes us feel a little better since we’re not looking right at it. Besides, it’s not our problem. We have our own issues to deal with, and we’ve worked hard to rise to a higher level ourselves. If they’d try a little harder, they wouldn’t be in this position. That’s the easy answer. One that requires nothing on our part, other than a little unwanted judgment.

But if we back up and take a second look, things aren’t always as they appear. That person begging for food may not be frail and skinny, but that doesn’t mean they’re filling up on nutritious foods. Potato chips will make you fat as quickly as prime rib. That person stumbling down the road may not be a drug addict at all, but somebody with a debilitating disease just trying to get to the soup kitchen.

And the person living in that dilapidated home may be a single mother working two jobs and barely making ends meet with impending foreclosure an ever-present reality. She may be just as embarrassed as you are at the condition of her home, but any money she spends sprucing the place up could mean a choice between feeding her children or losing their home. You just never know.

None of that means we have to go out and save the world on our own. But to the extent that we help those around us to rise above their adversity, we elevate ourselves as well. Anything we can do to help another person achieve their own potential raises the collective average for everybody around them, ourselves included.

There’s always that one person on the team nobody wants to see reaching for a bat, especially with two outs and the bases loaded. The coach looks on hopelessly as the fans jeer and throw popcorn. And believe me, that person stepping up to the plate knows it. At that point, it doesn’t matter how many star players are on the team. This one person can singlehandedly lose the game.

But maybe that player is a star pitcher or can throw a ball from left field to home plate without a bounce. They just can’t hit the ball when it’s their turn at bat. So, if we can’t just remove them from the team, wouldn’t it make sense to help them become a stronger batter?

Some of the most notable figures throughout history began life in squalor, or with medical conditions that none of us can imagine. More often than not, those people want nothing more than to be like the rest of us, safe and secure, and with an opportunity to optimize their own potential. They just want to enjoy life, the same as you and me.

We may not be able to give everybody a handout, but sometimes all they need is a helping hand. A simple gesture, a little kindness, and maybe some extra effort, can go a long way in helping a person rise above whatever adversity they’re facing. We can’t eliminate all of life’s challenges. But in helping others meet theirs, our own challenges become that much more manageable.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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