During Unsettling Times, A Civil, Caring Community Begins Within
A Commentary by Ann Bova, Senior Philanthropic Advisor
December 21, 2016 – For many – be it you, your neighbor or a distant observer in a far-off land – America has lost a little of its luster over the past year or more.
From unnerving racial tensions in our communities to the seemingly ever-expanding gap between the haves and have nots to the downright unsettling tone of our recently concluded presidential campaign, it’s easy to see why some might be wondering, ‘what the heck is going on?’
I often wonder the very same thing. Just how is it that we have arrived at this seemingly precarious place in time? What happened to the America we grew up with? Where has our civil society gone?
I’ll be the first to admit this is not my wheelhouse, offering conjecture on such larger-than-life questions. I am not a philosopher, elected official or studied expert on a changing America – like you, I’m an ordinary citizen striving to do what’s best every day for my family, my neighbor and my community.
It is the message of that last sentence that got me thinking I may just have something to say about all this after all.
I’ve worked in the world of philanthropy and community service for more than 40 years, so I’m familiar with the notion of taking care of one’s neighbor. It is a way of life I’ve cherished since I chose this path, and I’ve been fortunate to witness first-hand – and even helped to make possible – many acts of extraordinary kindness toward others both great and small.
To me, such acts – helping your elderly neighbor with an everyday chore, volunteering for a worthwhile cause, donating to a non-profit organization – are central to what makes for a rich life and community.
America hasn’t really changed. We are the same thoughtful, caring, giving people we have always been. America isn’t sensational headlines, polarizing politics and social media run amok – it is you, me, our friends, neighbors and those across the country we don’t even know, getting along each and every day, trying our best to make the world a better place, one small act of caring and generosity after another.
As I descend my soapbox, I ask that you consider this:
In this season of giving, if we could all dedicate ourselves to doing our one little part, each and every day, to lend a helping hand, be kind to our neighbor, be generous with our time, talents (and yes, wallet), wouldn’t that go a very long way toward bringing back a bit of that luster we’ve seemingly lost?