Staying out of the way so others can work
by Marguerite Cline, columnist
January 30, 2014 07:04 PM | 1210 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
My favorite singing group, Alabama, sings, “Life’s a dance you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow…”

I think they should have added another line to the song at that point. It would have been, “Sometimes you stay out of the way and let others work.”

Hard times usually bring out the best in all of us. This week has been one of hard times. There have been many heartwarming stories of people helping others as our roads became impassable leaving hundreds stranded.

Many have done so much. Some, using their four-wheelers and four-wheel drive vehicles, have rescued people from their cars and trucks and taken them home or to shelters. One police officer even helped in the birth of a baby in a car.

Others have opened their doors, found people seeking shelter from the cold and welcomed total strangers into their home.

Area churches have received well-earned praise as they invited anyone who could get there inside. Many businesses followed their lead.

Many of us, including me, have helped by not becoming a part of the problem. We have kept our brittle bones indoors using our computers, reading good books, working crossword puzzles and doing things around the house that needed to be done.

No one came to my house seeking shelter. But, I have wondered what I would have done if I was home alone and someone had rung my doorbell.

If they were people I knew and trusted, I would have gladly welcomed them in. We would have spent the time making the best of things until they could be on their way.

First, they would have been on the telephone letting family and friends know where they were and assuring all their loved ones they were well.

I would have put on a pot of coffee, decided where my unexpected guests would sleep and probably settled in to watch the news reports of the storm and the problems it was causing.

All of that would have been easy.

But suppose someone I did not know knocked on the door. Would I have let them in? I am not totally sure but the answer, in most cases, is probably no. Without unlocking the door, I would have explained that there is a sheriff’s precinct and fire station just around the corner.

Then I would have called the precinct number to let them know folks needing shelter were on the way.

After that I would have felt tremendously guilty. I would ask myself, “Why did I turn those folks away? I profess to being a Christian, yet I turned away those who needed help.”

Before I asked myself the question I would already know the answer. It is because, like you, I live in today’s violent society. We do not trust those we do not know, especially as we get older. Innocent people are being robbed, assaulted and even killed for no reason. Theft and home invasions are rampart.

Wisely, we have learned to be self-protective. Some have panic buttons. Signs around our homes show we have security systems. Some wear life alerts that within seconds can signal we need help.

We have armed ourselves with guns, pepper spray and other weapons. We do not go into areas of our community where crime is more prevalent. Many do not go out of their homes alone after dark.

So what is the best course of action for those who are the most vulnerable to take to help during times like these?

The best thing to do is not to let ourselves become a part of the problem. Use common sense, stay safe in our homes and stay off the roads. Our vehicle stranded on the road or our bones broken on the ice just adds to the problem.

But when the crisis is over, there are important things you and I can do. We can begin by taking canned and boxed foods to Action Church or to others that opened their doors for those who were homeless or stranded. Most likely, when temperatures drop to dangerous levels or disaster strikes in the future, they once again will be taking care of those in need.

During times like these, my older than we used to be friends, you and I can help most by staying out of the way and letting others do their work.

Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska.
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