In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effects on the East Coast, many photos and stories have surfaced of kind-hearted civilians helping people in need. With half of New York City, and much of states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, without power (or water), many people who do have power have been leaving surge protectors outside of their homes allowing those without electricity to charge their phones/laptops/whathaveyou. One small act of kindness, yes, but it makes a big difference when we realize that so much of our daily livelihood relies on electricity.
When I first saw these photos, I thought about how good it would feel if I were one of the people with power who was able to give back to my neighbors and fellow city-dwellers. After all, the people who do have electricity at this time are just lucky; I can’t imagine blaming anyone but Sandy for people’s struggles. We were prepared for the worst, as instructed. Anyway, I realized how strange it is to have a fleeting daydream about being a victim of a natural disaster, yet being able to help others. Who would want that?
But then I understood the deeper meaning of my desire. It feels good to help people. And while no one in Boston is in need of a surge protector coming out of my apartment to charge their phones, there are millions upon millions of other people around the world who need more than just electricity. I feel I am happily being drawn into philanthropy, and with the holiday season rapidly approaching, what better time to start truly giving back?
I spend so much time during the year buying things I don’t really need – but I really, really want – and I spend so much money during the holidays on ingredients to bake cookies and on gifts for friends and family. And after all that, I never feel I am truly happy or fulfilled. I need to give back. I see people in need on the street every day, yet I often feel like I just don’t have time to help. But the time has come to find the time.
Maybe I’ll start small, donating some food or giving money to a philanthropic organization. Maybe one day, I’ll travel on a humanitarian mission, giving all of myself to a worthy cause. Who knows. All I know is that I need to do something outside of myself. If I’ve learned anything from Sandy, it’s that shit happens, no matter who you are, and no matter how much you prepare. So help your neighbors, help your friends, help the people on the street you don’t know but who could really use a hand. In the end, we’ll all feel better. Let’s show Sandy who’s boss. As the first day of November, ’tis the season of giving, after all.