Friday, July 20, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Out of Sight - Out of Mind

This summer I am again taking the train each week from New York City to our home in the Adirondacks. Like most of America’s railroads, the train I take follows tracks that were laid in another era, and thus they run behind and through some areas that were developed after these rail lines were laid. These places now provide some very interesting views and perspectives, ones that are mostly out of sight and out of mind.

Without any sense of the passage of time, these trains run through neighborhoods and behind homes whose backyards were never intended for viewing, and past decaying buildings whose better days have passed, and along waterways that are little used for commerce anymore, and in, out and alongside woods and fields that rarely get visited, and stop at stations built in a different era.  These are views and perspectives that have now mostly become out of sight and out of mind.

There’s one stretch on the trip I take where the woods are filled with trees that were felled by a rare tornado last year. Bridges and roads were also destroyed by that same tornado, but these more visible and necessary things were quickly fixed, allowing life to return to normal, and allowing people to move on and forget. But this patch of woods where the trees are still lying in their destroyed state is a vivid reminder of the kinds of things that happen and, because of what and where they are, then become out of sight and out of mind.  That’s usually not a good thing to let happen.

This patch of woods was destroyed at a time when so many other things were happening: the world was  inundated with news about the continuing devastation from the hurricanes in Haiti and New Orleans, the more recent tsunami in Japan and its nuclear meltdown, pictures on the news of mudslides in India, and so many other important and tragic issues. But these worldwide events, like the trees felled by that tornado, quickly become day-old news that fades, and the people and places and issues associated with those news items quickly become out of sight, and out of mind

But not for those places and people who are directly affected and continue to suffer. Because tragedies happen to real people (some of whom we know) and continue to linger, we should try to remember them and do what we can to help, wherever and however we can. Take a moment today to look at the people and places around you that may be still be dealing with things that happened in the past, and which are not yet resolved. And then do whatever you can to make sure they don’t become out of sight and out of mind.

My message this week is about doing what’s right:

"If we believe a thing to be bad, and if we have a right to prevent it, it is our duty to try to prevent it and damn the consequences." 
-Lord Milner

Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner, (1854 – 1925) was a British statesman and colonial administrator who played an influential leadership role in the formulation of Great Britain’s foreign and domestic policy.

When was the last time you saw something that wasn’t right; and what did you do about it?  We often bump into things that aren’t quite right, and then have an opportunity to do something about them - or not.  Like a scrap of paper on the floor – do you stop and pick it up? Like a person who’s obviously lost or in distress – do you stop and offer assistance? Like an error someone made – do you help them to understand and correct it? Like a sad look in someone’s eyes – do you stop and cheer them up?  Or like a tough situation you and others may be in – do you re-double your efforts and help lead the way?  These and so many other things confront us all the time and the measure of a person is their willingness to stop and do something to prevent or improve them; that’s our duty, and damn the consequences that may result from our involvement and efforts.  Because that’s the right thing to do!

Stay well!

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