"But how can I, an individual, help the many who need help? The problem is overwhelming."
Ever had that thought? Imagining yourself that way — a mere speck facing a mountain of hardship — makes it easy to turn your back. What's the use? What difference can one person make? It's a common way of thinking.
The truth is, your contribution to help those in need is a small part of the whole. But the larger truth is, it's not about you as an individual. It's about the society you belong to, your membership in humanity.
Thanksgiving reminds us of this. It is the convivial time of year we celebrate our bounty and good fortune with family and friends. It's a time of sharing, and that means — or should mean — with those who do not have a seat at your Thanksgiving feast, those whose names you do not know and will never know: like those in our annual Share Your Blessings section in this issue.
It could be a child at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, who would enjoy a box of crayons and a coloring book; or a homeless person served by the Christopher Place Academy, who could use your gently used clothing; or it could even be a puppy at the Defenders of Animal Rights that would delight in a chew toy.
In tough economic times such as these, it's tempting to divide folks into "us," who have the wherewithal to live in relative comfort and security, and "them," who may lack the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter or who have health problems whose care and treatment are out of their family's reach.
But no such divide really exists.
The righteousness of the community in which we live and work is measured, in one way or another, by the distress that the neediest among us endure. The pain is always shared. To paraphrase poet John Donne, the pain suffered by "them" in some way diminishes "us."
So, read Share Your Blessings and find a way to help out. Helping them is helping your community, thereby helping yourself.