You only live once, give or take … so let’s give a little

Sunset in Central New York, May 2013.

Sunset in Central New York, May 2013.

In my more cynical moments as a parent, I remind my three boys that the handy American societal axiom of “the haves and have-nots” is too quaint, too weak.

Replace that with “givers and takers,” I tell them, and you have a more accurate view of who among us has more — and how a lot of them got it.

I’m still a bit cynical, but unlike many cynics I’m not going to shake my head knowingly and sit on my hands. I propose we do something about it.

I have an optimistic, starry-eyed idea that certainly won’t eliminate the problem of too many predatory takers in our midst. But it might just help a little.

Here goes, with an asterisk:

Each of us* should find one person to look out for, someone who needs some measure of comfort. Not just one dose, but a steady regimen over the long haul.

(*I’m excluding people whose jobs and/or other obligations demand that they give of themselves day in and day out, often causing them to neglect their own well-being.)

For the rest of us, how about finding one person who could use a little kindness? There are plenty of worthy candidates. An elderly neighbor. A former colleague who’s sick or going through a rough time. An old friend whose spouse has died. A person with a disability, or someone who cares for a family member with a disability. (Who cares for the caregiver, after all?)

Try to do this more than once or twice. Keep at it, even when life gets in the way. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, or a scheduled commitment. But if there’s a free moment, pick up the phone or stop by unannounced. Send an old-fashioned card or letter.

My apologies if this seems preachy. I certainly didn’t intend that. But following the belief that the best way to counter a bad idea is with a good idea, I figure the antidote for takers is givers. Lots of them.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Irish Investigations, poverty, role models, Volunteering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to You only live once, give or take … so let’s give a little

  1. markbialczak says:

    Sometimes I need preachy. Not that this is has that tone, at all, Jim. But, in the category of givers, there are also nudgers. You now fall into that needed niche, too. Thank you. That PM you sent me earlier, with the listing, falls into this folder also, I realized while reading this wake-up post. Good man, Jim.


  2. Ellen says:

    Another great blog.
    The rewards of this are far greater than anything we could ever do for ourselves. I still remember the moment I realized the person I wanted to be and it changed my life… October 28th 2012, Section 60 Arlington National Cemetary.


  3. Succinct and doable Jim – I love it! Facebooked and tweeted it!
    Diana xo


  4. It didn’t feel preachy to me. It felt good. Sensible. And doable. Thank you Jim.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Thank you, Colleen … I edit myself fiercely sometimes. Maybe too much. (The original drafts were a bit more edgy. But discretion being the better part of … blogging??? 🙂


      • I often use that editing tool myself. On rare occasions I have ‘wished’ I hadn’t. But, for the most part, I’m concerned about the message it’s self and it being heard.

        Your’s was definitely heard. 🙂


  5. ksbeth says:

    i agree with this jim. i’ve always thought that if every person in the world mentored and looked after and cared for one other person, it would be a wonderful place.


  6. Jim McKeever says:

    Beth, thanks. I had an idea once of starting a campaign called “Each One, Reach One.” I googled the term and someone had already started a movement by that name. Initially I was bummed, but then I was glad someone beat me to it!


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