Last fall when I was eight months pregnant with my second child, I precariously hoisted up my two year old onto the bird’s nest vantage point of a local playground’s jungle gym. While up there, running around with the other kids, he slipped, fell and cut his lip.
With screams abounding, I scurried up the vertical ladder to retrieve him. He had blood on his face and was crying uncontrollably–I had no other option but to carry him down.
As I struggled enormously with his weight while trying to protect my pregnant belly, I reached the bottom with my own tears–from strain and abdominal pain–pooling in my eyes. Half winded, I looked around and saw that at least a dozen other people were just standing there staring. Not one person offered to help me, or assist me with my injured son.
Sadly, I left the playground disappointed and hurt that no one came to my aid. Had our society become so unhelpful and uninterested in one another that a pregnant lady and a crying child warranted no assistance? I drove home wondering if the camaraderie, the lend-a-hand or help-the-other-guy attitude had somehow disappeared from this country. Had we changed from being friendly individuals and retreated, reverted and withdrawn into our own lives? It seemed hard to believe that an attitude could exist in this progressive, advanced, first world nation.
Years ago, I lived on a small island, classified as a third world nation. One day a huge truck dumped a ton of decaying corn cobs into the middle of the dirt street. A family in that village made their living from converting rotten corn into chicken feed. The entire family, including relatives from other villages, formed an assembly line that began processing the corn. The smallest children used rocks to soften the husks, the ladies shucked the dried kernels, while the older men snapped the cobs into smaller pieces. The younger, stronger men shoveled everything into a one-wheel mixing machine and refilled the bags with the finished goods.
Not speaking a word of their language, I ventured over and sat next to the others my age. For some unknown reason I felt compelled to offer my help and be a part of what they were doing. I worked in the blazing sun until my hands blistered and my back ached, but during it all we laughed and found a way to communicate to get the job done. When I woke the next day with cramping muscles and swollen hands, my heart overflowed with a feeling of connection and community.
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