Submitted by Danny Smith
One of the most life-affirming phenomenons in light of Hurricane Sandy, is the surge of grass-roots organizations answering the call to feed, clothe, counsel, and assist the communities in need without the restraints of bureaucratic procedure. The Red Cross and FEMA are vital for sure, but they just couldn’t do nearly as much if it weren’t for compassionate people willing to share their talents, ideas, food and encouragement. In the streets, you can see that human beings are transformed by witnessing and participating in these acts of solidarity.
Human beings are hard-wired for empathy (that’s why yawns are contagious), but we don’t get a chance to express it so openly as we do in a crisis that eviscerates the normal bubble of personal space and eye-contact-evasion people are used to in social situations.
It’s a wonder to behold how much we have in common and it feels good to fill a need. It’s the basis of real self-esteem, to do something that you know is truly worthy, that contributes to something larger, and noble.
The featured image on this post, by the way, is from Rockaway Beach Carnival, put on by volunteers to cheer up kids affected by SuperStorm Sandy.
“The Rockaway Kids Carnival in Rockaway Beach gave children and their families an opportunity to smile amidst a difficult time in an area that is still without power since the storm. Organizer Mark Winkel and partners Damon Worden and Molly Levine advertised the carnival at local shelters and with flyers and even a marching band. Winkel estimated the crowd at about 600, including volunteers, for the event that went from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and featured face painting, puppet shows, aerial performers, toys and bouncy castles in a 40,000-square foot outdoor area.”
What better way for moms and dads to bond with their children, and increase their skills, their minds, their hearts and their creativity, than by initiating together, some sort of craft or gesture to help those in need? Never before have there been so many opportunities, no matter where you live, to participate (alongside your children) in community-minded grass-roots activities. These things don’t cost much at all, but the value created is shared by everyone involved. It’s the sort of value that can’t be destroyed, that doesn’t take up space in a landfill, and that doesn’t go out of fashion in one season. What better lesson to have a kid feel gratitude (the very essence of contentment) than to get them excited about doing, giving, and brainstorming solutions? What better asset for a work ethic than to find meaning and strength through networking? It might sound hokey, but cooperative people-skills are undeniably relevant in the modern world.
Not to sound like a politician, but the jobs ahead of us are big and the path, as always, uncertain. I encourage us all to get out there and work with each other to improve our world without waiting for anyone else to do it. The ideas you get from actual hands-on experience, mingling with the flickers of other creative minds, you never know, it just might lead to a brilliant idea for your career path. What better way to get to know what the needs are and what niche you can fill, or what invention you will dream up? I hope to see you on the streets, ladies, dishing out your brilliance, mom-to-mom.