Sympathy Without Action

(I wrote this piece about three months ago.)

Last evening I had a new experience that still gives me pause today.  I saw something in person that I have never seen before and it happened in my own neighborhood.

In the early evening I was cleaning up around the house when my wife came home from her job.  As she walked in the door she said to me “What’s on fire?”

At first I thought she was referring to one of our neighbors burning leaves or trash.  So I asked her where she saw something burning.

We went out our back door on to our deck and we could see black smoke pouring into the sky, being swept from the west to the east across the ten or fifteen homes that make up the small development that is up the street from our house.

From our vantage point we couldn’t tell exactly which house it was coming from or if it even was a house that was on fire.   But the fire trucks, ambulances and fire police vehicles kept pouring onto the scene.

We could tell it was something substantial and so I had to walk up the street to see exactly what was happening.

I proceeded up the road and turned back the street to where all the commotion was taking place.

This development was nothing but farmland when I was growing up.  I played and hunted in the fields that use to exist where the houses now stand.  My grandfather owned the landed and subdivided it into this little hamlet.

My parents still live in one of the first homes built there in the  early sixties and my wife and I have walked around the development on numerous occasions over the last twenty five years.  We know just about everyone in the development even if it through just a casual hello as we take an evening stroll.

When I got to where all the emergency vehicles were parked I could see which house was engulfed in flames.

The people who lived there were some of the casual acquaintances I mentioned above.  I knew they had two little boys.

As I approached the house and realized who lived in the house I became very distraught.

All the neighbors had gathered in the spot closet to the house that the firemen would allow.  As I looked at all their faces I could see we all felt the same.

I think it was hitting home with everyone that the burning house could have just as easily been anyone of our homes.  Anyone of us could have had whatever fluke it was that started this fire happen to them, and anyone of us standing there could have been watching as a lifetime or our possessions went up in flames.

I stood there and watched until it appeared the firefighters had the flames under control and then I turned away and walked back home.

The whole neighborhood felt bad for the family but at least everyone was safe.

Later that night I laid in bed trying to go to sleep.  I thought about how in the times passed the whole neighborhood, the churches and probably the local town government would have all pitched in and helped that family.

But today as far as I know we all watched and then turned and walked away.  We were sad and sympathetic to the family’s plight but assumed someone else will take care of them.

Hopefully I was wrong in this assumption.

We’ve all grown up in such a government welfare state, a nanny state.  Do we now just assume that the government will take care of it?

What a sad commentary on society that would be if we have all decided to rely on a heartless government to supply the compassion that we should be heaping on our fellow man.

Again hopefully I’m wrong.

I’d like to think as pleasant as all our neighbors are that someone who knew these people offered some sort of assistance.

I should follow up this evening and see what is going on and see if I can help.  I have such an abundance.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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