This is who we are

This morning as I drove my son to school, we passed the aftermath of a house fire. The street was blocked by police cars, and we could see fire trucks up ahead. We both commented that it must have been a bad fire if the street was still closed.

After I dropped him off, I met a friend for a walk at a local park. The morning was raw and cold, but it felt good to be out with my friend by my side. I mentioned the police cars and fire trucks, and she said she had heard the sirens throughout the night.

Later, I saw a post about it on FB. The fire had, in fact, been devastating. A family with three small children lost everything.

The last ten days or so have been difficult — emotional, frustrating, scary. I’ve made no secret of my concerns about this new administration, about how hard it has been to accept their agenda. I’ve watched (and called and marched) as this administration has turned its back on immigrants, on women, on minorities, on education, and even — shockingly — on the law.

But as I thought about what is going on in our country and around the world, I couldn’t get this local family off of my mind. I thought about how this little village, less than 20 miles from midtown Manhattan, has become my community, how neighbors and friends showered us with acts of generosity when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I had to act.

I went back to FB and read the threads asking for donations. I thought about all we have that can be shared, and I thought about how giving — how kindness — lifts the heart. I put together a small bag of warm clothing, a little cash, and dropped it off. As I drove home, I felt better than I have in days.

This is who we are. On Saturday night, I cheered as lawyers volunteered their services to people detained in airports across the country. And today I smiled as my neighbors rallied around a young family facing a devastating loss. This is who we are. We step up when people are in need. It’s what we do as citizens of this great nation and as citizens of the world. There is no excuse for closing doors, building walls, and turning our backs on people in need. It’s not about money or material things; a kind word and the gift of friendship go a long way.

On this point, I will not go quietly. Because this is who we are.

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