Sunday, December 30, 2007

Acts of Kindness and Support

The love and support for Dori continue. Over the last 48 hours, two selfless people, one a good friend and neighbor and the other someone I barely know, made $250 contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It's a good time to do that, before the book closes on the year (link still active on this blog). The neighbor's contribution didn't surprise me. He and his wife are caring people who would give you the shirts off their backs. The "mystery contribution" was perplexing.

Here's what I've deduced. When I received the e-mail alert about the contribution, I recognized the person's name, but couldn't place it. After a quick Googling, I found the contributor runs a law firm here in town. When I saw his photo, I knew I'd met him a time or two at neighborhood meetings. I was impressed by him, but again, I don't really know him. Then, I recalled his interest and involvement in Civil War history, and that was it! He apparently Google'd the Battle of Nashville and read my recent entry on this blog. Either that or he has a connection to leukemia, or both.

I plan to call him and thank him after the New Year, but this episode clearly shows the Internet community is a powerful, often uniting place. Like you have an extended neighborhood. I undertook the blog endeavor this summer knowing some crazies are out there. I also believe there is a lot of good that can be done, too, through blogs, links and the like. My theory has been proven and my faith in my fellow man has been bolstered.

Other not-so-random acts of kindness continue. Stacy (one of my New York cousins), who I haven't seen in years, sent the the most scrumpdeli-icious basket of cookies and brownies, individually wrapped I might add, from Cheryl & Co. The kids and I have been hammering them, and Dori has been dabbling, too. Other cousins above the Mason-Dixon line, like Mike and Laura, have been in touch with e-mails and prayerful notes. It's like this every day - we get quite a few e-mails and calls from folks. When I'm at church, at the grocery store, wherever, people just want to say they care. I did notice I hadn't heard from a few good friends for awhile, but gradually they've gotten in touch. The recurring theme ... serious illnesses either terrify them or cause them to revisit a serious illness that afflicted or claimed a family member. Their call or card says how sorry they are about being out of pocket or not being more supportive. I completely understand how they feel. Clearly, everyone reacts differently to tragedies or major challenges. We've seen it through longtime friends and new ones at the hospital.

As Dori recovers, I've begun to think more globally again. I have many friends in politics, because of my career choices (journalism, etc.) and my activism over the years. My good friends know me as a moderate who leans conservative on some things, less so on others. I like to weigh both sides of an issue before I decide, rather than read and stamp the party literature. I prefer to assess candidates on their positions, their character and their fitness for the job.

I'm really intrigued by this year's presidential primaries because it appears people are fed up with the establishment, Republican and Democrat. The bitterness that's built the last 15 years has either caused people to tune out completely (not the best idea for the health of our republic) or seek alternative candidates not wholly backed by the parties. My friends, moderate, conservative and liberal, all seem to agree both major parties and their key leaders at the national level have squandered the trust they've been given. A few have even done what my dog does to the bushes at the corner of our yard (and we're the shrubbery, folks). The people who run the parties have completely forgotten we're all Americans who expect some compromise and solutions now and then. Many people want the "it's their fault, not ours" language to get 86'd.

I believe this frustration, even exasperation, explains the rise of candidates Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama. Of the lot, they are the two who seem most like you and me. Both have run populist campaigns, focusing their message on rejecting Beltway tactics. They have articulated their positions as solutions, not as clubs to bludgeon their opponents. Their backgrounds and upbringing are intriguing. Both talk to people, not through them. And look who's supporting them: Chuck Norris is stumping for Huckabee, while Oprah has embraced Obama. Not the norm, for sure. Also, the Ron Paul thing seems like a version of the 1992 Perot phenomenon, and I know several people who wouldn't mind a John McCain-Joe Lieberman ticket.

People are fed up. The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary should begin to sort out if we're going to get on a better track or stay on the same old scary Willy Wonka boatride. Personally, I'm rooting for populism and against the vitriolic, over-funded ranting by the establishment.

If reading or thinking about politics get you down, here are a few links to get you out of your funk: the first the ogre Sweetums trying to mash a bunch of Muppet frogs and the second the aforementioned psychedelic boatride with Gene Wilder, the only Willy Wonka I'll ever watch. By the way, the "Christmas Songs for Dori" iMix is now downloadable just in time for Christmas 2008.

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