Holiday season, the season of giving and the reason for celebration, is over and life is back to normal.
We fed the homeless for a few days. We gave toys to the needy tots and teens. We provided shoes and clothes for the poor. We helped the economy by giving gifts generously to many people, even though they may have no need for them or they do not know what to do with them. We took a lot of photos documenting a lot of donations and decorations. We mailed a lot of cards. We even sang carols in the hospital hallways. We did our good deeds for the year. We are almost done. Life is back to normal.
Normal for whom? What about the poor, the needy, the homeless, the disabled and the disadvantaged until the next season? How do they get another holiday from the daily difficulties of life?
Talk to the increasing number of Americans who do not have a job and cannot afford adequate food or decent shelter. What about the looming health-care crisis, which we are managing to postpone, like we did with everything else, until now?
Let us face it. The government is neither going to be able to solve all the problems (it is difficult enough not to create more problems) nor make everybody equal (except for making everybody poor). We cannot exactly blame the government. For many years, we, the people, have collectively, by majority, elected representatives in the government. In addition to the citizens taking responsibility to elect the right people (not necessarily the right party) to the government, the community has to take the responsibility to help needy neighbors. Government is too busy right now bailing out all the big corporations. There is no money for community projects which support the real needy.
Times are particularly tough now. Good times and bad times are cyclical things, just like the weather. We have to endure the bad, if we want to enjoy the good. Kindness, compassion and acceptance should replace selfishness, jealousy and hatred. Caring, sharing, giving and forgiving have to be a daily effort and a yearlong affair. It is not any particular season, but the overall survival and success of humanity that calls for real celebration.
Meanwhile, happy thoughts, kind words, pleasant reading, exchanging of cards and encouraging articles — all help. After all, happiness is a state of mind. Even though it is difficult to be happy on an empty stomach. I should know, I had been there not by chance, but by choice.
The season may be over, but the spirit of giving a hand should go on. The more we give, the more we are sure to get back in one form or the other.
Cardiologist Dr. Rau Musunuru is trustee for Pasco-Hernando Community College, a director at the Good Samaritan Health Clinic of Pasco and a former board chairman and now honorary board member for Community Aging and Retirement Services, CARES.