Lending a Neighborly Hand

Written by Bette Dewing on . Posted in Uncategorized.

Don”t forget to sing and protest

By Bette Dewing

The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.

My Dec. 23, 2007, column, written after a snowstorm, began with this basic belief of Hubert Humphrey, senator from my home state of Minnesota, and vice-president to President Lyndon Johnson. (His mother, like mine, was a Norwegian, and my dad joined the Farmer Labor Party that he founded in Minnesota.)

But neighbors helping out neighbors has lost favor, even in Minnesota, my cousins there report.

This cause receives precious little help from the media, which so shape our culture”s customs and views. Even during the current blizzard, most of the photos and copy were about stalled traffic: cars, planes, subways and buses. Kids playing in the snow received some coverage, but nothing was devoted to the unsteady of foot or otherwise impaired which kept us snowbound for days.

Worse, the permanently homebound got little media attention, and most of their neighbors forget them.

Maybe you too would like to write the public editor at the New York Times (public@nytimes.com) and ask why a Dec. 31 story about emergency vehicles not being able to get through to possibly save the lives of a newborn infant and a man and woman in their seventies, was buried inside the Times, while a light-hearted, wading through slush and mush piece made the front page.

Again, there is so little in our culture shaping media that helps advances neighbors helping out neighbors. Lets bring back The Waltons! While we”re at it, let”s change current music too.

Unlimited kudos to Jeanne Martinet”s Dec. 23 column, “A Holiday Tonic: This year, why not try singing the blues away. Singing”s the answer, she says, and goes on to tell how it helps emotional, physical and societal health.

Dear Jeanne, do keep up this crusade. I”ve championed it forever’s urged in vain for singalongs, community and hymns sings, too.

But just like neighborly help, they”ve fallen out of favor.

Melodic, non-toxic music, brings people together with lyrics, which give equal time to family and friendship love’s and neighbors helping neighbors themes. And it sure helps the “everyone singing cause to have a younger generation advocate like Jeanne.

It helps out every cause, and until the revolution where neighbors really do help neighbors, and society is intergenerationally interdependent (and I don”t mean the May-December romance kind), we could sure use “younger help to stop the drastic cuts in senior services that are so essential to countless elder New Yorkers. Most elders, unfortunately, do not yell and scream for their basic rights, or protest the ageism that undergirds many elderhood woes, including isolation. The newspaper photos of people inching slowly down-snow covered subway stairs remind me how some of us must always proceed that way.

And this rather relates to a “walk a mile in my shoes recent Times piece “Learning Hard Way About Life Across Town. Politician Must Endure Construction Chaos. A fire in Borough President Scott Stringer and Mrs. Stringer”s West Side apartment caused them to move for two months to an apartment on 83rd Street and Second Avenue. Here the couple experienced the constant noise and chaos of Second Avenue Subway construction. Stringer told his wife to be careful walking amid all the debris. But what about the “unsure-footed residents and shoppers?

It”s a reality every politician should experience, so that residents and small-business customers and owners get greater protection, and that the latter is adequately reimbursed for lost business.

All of the above are not impossible dreams, not if enough of us share and act on them.

Sing’s Smile’s Breathe!


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