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It’s the Least We Can Do:

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by Joseph Benanti

It’s the Least We Can Do:
Photo courtesy Joseph Benanti

A child will go to bed hungry tonight . . .
Meanwhile,  Republicans and Democrats are continuing to hurl bombshells across the aisle as the election year is heating up.

A boomer who is disabled and living alone hasn’t had a visitor in over a month, and falls asleep in the same recliner back chair that has been the center of their world since becoming disabled.
Meanwhile, secular humanists continue to do battle with those on the religious right.

An 87 year old woman has a lifetime worth of experiences and wisdom stored up in her mind yet every day her wheelchair is pushed in front of a wide screen TV in the day room of her assistive living community to watch another game show. 

Meanwhile, the ideological battles rage on in our nation.

Are you tired of spending so much time defending your political, religious, social, and ethnic soapbox, and creating unseen yet impenetrable barriers between you and those that think differently than you?   I am fed up with it, and I believe it needs to stop right here and right now. 

You know what I am convinced of?  It can’t be legislated, because from what I see as I look at our government, they are getting little accomplished while maximizing face time on TV interviews berating the other side of the aisle. 

I think it is time for “We the People” to take our government to school, and show them how ordinary people  can accomplish extraordinary feats when they agree to cooperate despite their ideological differences. 
So let me start:  My name is Joe Benanti, and I am a third generation Italian American living in South Carolina, an evangelical, fundamental Christian, a political conservative. . .

Did you hear that?  That was the sound of 1,000 mouse clicks navigating away from this web site.  For those of you who have decided to read on, let’s see if we have any foundation to build on.
First of all, let’s agree to disagree on the theology and ideology for the present time.  We can agree that we feel strongly about our perspectives, and unwilling to compromise, however, does that mean that there is no other potential bridge that we can build? 

Here’s what I struggle with.  In the bible Jesus states that  whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.  He was referring to feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, inviting in a stranger, clothing the poor and visiting those who were sick or were in prison. Whatever your view of the bible and Jesus, you have to agree that this reflects a selfless love of others.

I have spent countless hours over the past 25 years of my life voluntarily preaching and ministering in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and assisted living communities, and never spent one moment caring about the person’s political persuasion or ethnic origin.  I just cared for them, and focused on ministering to their needs. Doing so has made me realize that it is absolutely ludicrous to harbor any racial or ethnic prejudice;  these people are just like me, but going through a rough battle in their lives. 

Over the years I realize that I have gained so much more than I have given, especially in the past 10 years preaching in an assisted living community in the Upstate of South Carolina, and treating home care patients in some of the most rural areas of the state.  I realize that people that society has given up on have some of the deepest wisdom that I have ever heard, but I had to dig a little to uncover it.

Can’t we work together to reach these people and so many more in need despite our differences?  Can we agree to have a foundation of love and respect for each other despite our differences in order to accomplish what needs to be done in our respective communities, states and nation? 

Polarization has bred paralysis in this country, but I believe it is a hysterical paralysis.  Hysterical paralysis is defined as, “Muscle weakness or paralysis without loss of reflex activity, in which no organic nerve lesion can be demonstrated, but which is due to psychogenic factors. Also known as functional paralysis.”  We as a nation have been paralyzed by our polarization even though we still have the ability to function.

I will not compromise one word of what I believe, however, I don’t have to in order to love and respect you and work side by side with you.  I don’t care about what you believe, I care that you care.  That you are able to put down the picket sign long enough to pick up someone who has fallen and needs your help.

No matter where we stand in the political spectrum, we all realize that our government is hurting, and we can’t look to them for the answers.  How great would it be if they looked to us, the American people, as their ideal of how to clean up their mess. 

We have an incredible opportunity before us.  Please don’t read this and walk away.  This is merely a brief introduction; a catalyst to stimulate continued discussion.  I want this to go viral; I want people from all walks of life to respond, and tell me where I am wrong. But,  if I am not wrong, I want us to act.  Become part of the strategic plan on how we can be a catalyst for change in areas that impact children, boomers and seniors.   During this time, let’s begin a constructive dialogue that brings us together as the nation that is truly the light for the rest of the world.  Let the world see our strength, our commitment, our love and our unity despite our real differences.

~A child will go to bed hungry tonight.

Tags: boomers relationships life changes wellness self-respect life balance


I really like your article.  I think in our culture we are so self-absorbed and somehow we missed out on the training to take care of the downtrodden and quit worrying about petty differences.  Thank you for your thoughtful article which I view as a plea to get back to the really important things in life.

by on June 04, 2012 11:37PM

While volunteering to help families get their lives back together after a major hurricane; politics, religious background, what color you were, your economic stature didn’t matter.  What mattered first and foremost is how to help one another!  It seems that when you focus on the basics that you care, you love one another and you respect each other, and egos are checked at the door, it is amazing what can be accomplished.  Faith based and non profits seemed to get the job done much faster than government resources.  Why you say?  Because they focused on each individual, make snap decisions on the spot and had willing hands to help.  I think this Joe guy is onto something!

by on May 23, 2012 09:34PM

I liked your article.  As someone who volunteered for Hospice for over four years I know the importance of giving back.  I feel that one thing we are missing in society today is teaching and learning that each of us need to llearn to take our responsibilities to each other seriously.  I’m including in this group not only those who are doing we’ll physically, mentally, financially and spiritually but also those who are not.  They have responsibility to society also.

Responsibility is the individual’s ability to respond to any situation in life as the cause, not as the victim, of the situation. This does not mean that the individual has actually caused the entirety of the situation but that the individual responds to the situation as the causative agent of a new future. Responsibility arises when one becomes free from one’s intellectual and emotional dependence on external authority in the matter of living—of thinking and action. The degree of the individual’s freedom from various kinds of external authority is directly proportional to the degree of the individual’s responsibility.

Responsibility stems from the recognition that one can always be the cause, and need never be the victim, of the situation, circumstance, or condition that arises within one’s experience, because one has the power over that which arises within one’s experience. Responsibility means that one has the ability to respond to a situation, circumstance, or condition as the author, not as the authored. Responsibility thus implies self- authorship, self-authority, and self-creativity.

If we can get to a point where we are all responsible for our thoughts, deeds and actions we wouldn’t need to be dependent on the government and, to a much lesser extent, others with the exception of care givers, etc.  Following the golden rule would be a good place to start!

by tloosmore jr. on May 22, 2012 05:51AM
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