In America today we take for granted so many things, water, air, television, internet, electricity, and each other. So many of the older generation and women are taught it is better to give than receive. While much of the younger generation in our society has learned, that only money or the gift of “things” is important.
If we aren’t getting things, then we aren’t loved, respected and appreciated. Our media and politicians lead us to believe that someone else has to take the responsibility for our actions. It is our right to have “things,” and if not provided then someone needs to be blamed. Usually, it is whoever is highest in the food chain on the other side of our own personal beliefs.
October 28, 2011, here in the North East the newscasters were predicting a minor dusting of snow down on the cape. October 29, 2011, they said, oh it is going to hit full on and because of the leaves on the trees, we might have a few power outages. Are they to blame? No, it is the best information that they had available. Yet, when instead a historical snow storm hit the east coast and thousands of trees broke in half, or uprooted from the ground, hitting power lines, poles, and leaving over a million people without power somehow, the power companies were to blame. Somehow, they should have known and been better prepared. The gift of electricity was gone.
Yes, it is true that the utility companies are paid to provide electricity, still they are not responsible for each and every one of us to be prepared for a storm of this magnitude. They are not responsible to somehow, magically restore power, drill through solid rock to install new poles, remove trees, and hang wires over thousands of miles of destruction in a day or two. How would this be possible? There isn’t enough manpower in all the state or the surrounding states to do this in a day or two.
I spent ninety hours this week, listening to people call in, some understanding, most, hysterical, angry, frustrated, and some making physical threats against the utility workers. It is my job to listen, it is my job to be compassionate, it is my job to put the order out to the field, and I am lucky to have a job in today’s world. There have been utility workers who have taken a break during an eighteen-hour shift that have been insulted, and assaulted. I have listened to people tell me that it is unacceptable that they have a cup of coffee or sleep for four hours, until all the power is restored, believing that their power is more important than the life of a worker.
Today, I am off for the second day in the last eleven. I have nothing in me to give, having received nothing but, hate, despair, anger, and
frustration from every angle since October 30, 2011. It makes me acutely aware of the importance of giving and of receiving.
Granted, a few people showed compassion for our situation over the last eight days. More often than not we gave as much information as we had, showed as much compassion as we had in us. We did not see our families and friends. Most of us went home to cold houses, without running water or sewage too. Still, we were there to listen each day, without a shower, or enough sleep. The meter workers, and line men were out in the field, putting up poles, climbing hills with transformers and electrical lines on their backs, for sixteen to eighteen hours each day.
All the while, the politicians and media were calling for investigations, saying such foolish things, like if we had trimmed the trees around the power lines this wouldn’t have happened. How irresponsible of them, if they had bothered to go into some of these towns, they would have seen whole trees ripped from the ground or broken in half. I know an election year is coming. Yet to insight the public to further anger, when the truth should be told instead is
beyond my understanding.
This week I have listened to people call in about the electricity of their elderly parent who lives a town over. Screaming that we are trying to kill them, yet they will not take that parent into their home, to a shelter, or to the hospital. Stating they want to stay in their home, they
have a right to be comfortable in their own home. It is true, they do, but it is also true that if it is a danger to them it is the responsibility of the grown child to step in. I know, I did for twenty years with my disabled mother.
I have heard of the utility companies being blamed because an elderly woman lost her life. Her fifty-nine year old son was living with her, yet did nothing to remove her from the home to safety. Her neighbors did nothing to check on them and their safety.
This week, it has struck home, more than it ever did before the importance of compassion for your fellow human being. I have learned the importance of giving something to others, even the poor utility worker who is on the other end of the telephone and the importance of
There are many types of gifts in life, yet this week it has come home to me more than ever before that the most important gifts, are that of time and compassion. No one is able to sustain themselves without these gifts. No one can repeatedly give to the depths of their being over and over till they are drained, without some compassion and understanding given back. I am acutely aware what a gift, water, electricity, heat, and time are. I am intensely aware that I too need to receive and learn how to give the gift of receiving well.
Author of more than fifty books.
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Marta Moran Bishop's first book was a book of poetry. Wee Three was written to bring back our ability to look at the world through the eyes of a child. To find the joy and wonder in life's simple pleasures.