Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all that needs fixing in the world? Or wake up under a blanket of shame about all that you aren’t trying to fix? Cain’s ancient question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” still haunts us—because we know the answer is yes! But the hugeness of that yes can be paralyzing.
One day at a time, AA suggests. One child at a time, a global non-profit recommends. Just one person harmed or helped affects an entire generation, say Jewish sages. What does it take to break through our emotional barriers or considerations of practicality to take a single step?
At first Margaret was delighted when her elderly neighbor’s son moved back home to care for his mother. But her delight soon changed to concern as the son seemed unable to handle the increasing responsibility. Margaret noticed her neighbor rarely left the house now, and when she did she seemed very disoriented and skittish. At first Margaret thought the bruises she noticed were just bumps on sensitive skin, until the day she looked out her window and saw the son push his mother out the door for a doctor’s appointment. When the older woman stumbled down stairs, her son grabbed her hair to pull her to her feet. Margaret couldn’t stand being the “nice” neighbor any more so she called Adult Protective Services for help. Ultimately the social worker assigned to the case arranged for a full-time caregiver, relieving the son of responsibility and allowing the neighbor to remain safe in her own home.
One call doesn’t change the whole world, but all the ones add up. Today, what one action to improve the world do I have courage to do? What one thing will you do?
For the hotline in your area, check http://www.nccafv.org/state_elder_abuse_hotlines.htm.