April 23, 2010 by David Gillaspie

When is poor health, hygiene and diet a plea for help instead of a lifestyle choice?  It depends on how close you are. 

When the nightly news shows a region in duress, whose problem is that?

When a study identifies a particular segment of the population with poor health, hygiene, and diet, and you’re not one of them, what do you do?  Can you do any more than feel lucky?

How can you feel good about making a contribution without the aroma of infomercial impulse spending, or feel like you’re sending money to a televangelist?

Trouble has its own sneaky ways of presenting itself.  Sometimes its slow building, sometimes it explodes.  You can’t do much about explosions except clean up afterward. 

A region, or country, in duress feels like an explosion because unless you’re living there you only see the clean-up, or what needs cleaning up.  The slow build up isn’t much better. 

Sometimes trouble grows so slow that you resist acknowledging it.  If you do notice, others who don’t might say you’re imagining things.  If you know trouble, you know you’re not imagining anything.

If you’re still wondering if poor health, hygiene and diet is a plea for help instead of a lifestyle choice, imagine a family member in distress.  They are unshowered, hungry, and confused.  They are isolated, angry, and proud. 

And they don’t need you hanging around.  At least that’s what they say.  Do you let it be?

In two words, hell no. 

Try to influence them without being obvious.  Do a favor.  Ask a favor.  Find a reason to weasel into their affairs enough to figure out what went wrong.  It’s not a waste of time.  Hear me out.

Put yourself in their shoes.  You’re dirty, you stink, you haven’t been to the store in weeks.  There’s no laundry because you’re wearing the same dirty clothes.  You stopped brushing your teeth.  You are either low blood sugar, over-revved on caffeine, or shorting out somewhere in your circuitry.

Do you need help?  Would you accept it if offered?  Or do you ride it on down in a flaming burn-out.

I think you take the help offered and you say thank-you.  You make an attempt to get yourself straightened out.  The embarrassment of not seeing trouble creep up on you isn’t easy to get over, but get over it.  Then help someone else. 

When your self-image is on the line, what do you see in the mirror?  Are you a bag person, or someone trying to get along.  Are you a derelict, or on the mend.

Listen, you’ve seen someone you’ve lost touch with and wondered what went wrong with them.  Maybe you join Facebook and discover you’re not one of the people who’ve turned into a face-0f-meth poster; that you don’t wear a three-pack-a-day habit around your eyes like a racoon, or a twelve-pack a night around your mid-section. 

If you wonder what to do with people who say their life is a choice instead of a drowning victim’s scream for HELP, lend a hand.  If that hand gets slapped away, lend your other hand.  Then wear gloves and repeat.  During a break in the lend a hand-slap a hand marathon, remind the person in front of you that you’d like them to lend you a hand if they find you in the same straits.

Troubled times pass; troubled people pass, too, but sharing a helping hand along the way makes you better for doing it.  

Now you have an answer when you ask yourself, “Why am I here?”


One thought on “Troubles

  1. ryeder says:

    I understand from which direction you write. My employment is that of a counselor for adjudicated youth, namely Native American teenagers. Many from Pine Ridge, an area larger than Rhode Island, and consisting of the poorest counties in the nation. I see and hear everyday the conditions and consequences of this environment. This was a very interesting read and one that touched home.

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