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Blizzard Jonas brought out best, worst in community

Winter storm Jonas made its way through and brought some lessons along the way — lessons about patience, brotherhood, the fragility of life, and the importance of making good use of our time and helping others.

After a storm or any event of this severity, it becomes necessary to put the best of us out there; it is not the time to complain, to be impatient or to be selfish. In the days following the storm, I saw behaviors of all kinds. I saw the person who helped clean his neighbors' driveways during and after the snowfall. I saw people bring coffee and snacks to plow truck drivers.

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I saw caring neighbors making sure that the elderly in their neighborhood or those who live alone had all they needed and were warm. I saw parents and kids making the best of the time off school and work and spending time together, even just by shoveling snow and having snowball fights. I saw those — like the police, firefighters, EMTs, nurses and doctors — who ventured outside in the middle of the storm to keep us safe, sometimes putting our lives before theirs. I saw the best of people in action.

But I also saw others who didn't put their best out there. I saw those who were impatient because their sidewalks or local streets had not been completely plowed yet. I saw those who cleaned up their cars after leaving them outside for the whole storm, but didn't even bother to offer help to others in the same situation. I saw people impatiently hurrying and honking their horns at those in front of them on the road, without even realizing that the driver they were so frustrated with was elderly and possibly afraid to drive in bad weather conditions.

I saw people complaining at the post office because their mail hadn't been delivered and they thought "nothing stops the U.S. mail," without thinking about the harm that might come to mailmen and women should they venture out onto the snowy, icy streets. I also heard parents — even from other counties — complaining because schools hadn't opened yet and the delay presented a complication for them to arrange for day care, without thinking that the decision to close schools was done to keep our kids safe. I saw others complaining because the grocery store or their favorite restaurant didn't have all the items they usually have, without thinking that the owners were just doing the best they could to provide at least the basic necessities for us.

I saw the best of people, but I also saw a lack of empathy and patience. Hard times call for coming together, for practicing brotherhood and humanity among us, and for being patient and caring toward others. Such severe weather events should be opportunities to practice the golden rule of "treat others the way you would like to be treated" that our family and teachers taught us when we were growing up. The hard times are the moments to show compassion, for they are the times at which random acts of kindness are needed and most appreciated.

More than ever, I invite all of you to show patience, love, compassion, care and appreciation. Let's come together during — and why not after? — the hard times.

Marta Cruz-Alicea writes every other week for the Life & Times section of the Carroll County Times.

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