Sunday, April 11, 2021

Doing the Right Thing




A great friend of mine once asked me why the rearview mirror in my car was smaller than the windshield. After a short pause and a couple of very poor jokes I gave in and awaited his response. He turned to me and said, “It’s more important to concentrate where you’re going than focus on where you’ve been.”

I know, it’s a little bit corny but I still think it is pretty good advice if you take the time to ponder that counsel and put it into the perspective of our own lives and the times we live in.

Most of us, including me, could have used a little more of that guidance ourselves as we journeyed through life. Holding grudges, failing to learn from our mistakes, not being as kind as we could have been or letting negativity rule our lives can have a major impact on where we go in life or what we accomplish.

Choosing to be focused on the good each of us can do is one way that we all can insure our lives will have meaning. We’ve seen that demonstrated in so many ways these last several months as families have suffered some of the worst hardships imaginable.

From the effects of several horrific storms that have ripped through places such as Houston, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and right here in our own backyard we have witnessed firsthand devastation that is heart wrenching. The fires that have leveled communities and sought to draw the life out of our hopes for the future have been equally horrific, as was the terrible shaking and splitting of the ground under the feet of innocent children, while buildings collapsed around those that could not run from the devastation.

Now more than ever it is important that we concentrate on what we can do for those not so fortunate. We must never let those that were impacted by these terrible tragedies be forgotten. Once the media spotlight is gone and the last camera or microphone has been put away, their needs will still remain.

As this special holiday period approaches, we must all work as hard as we can to help those affected and to focus on that windshield and not on tragedy in the rearview mirror that will quickly fade from our vision and our memories. The loss of hope can be as devastating as the event that has befallen these poor individuals, and all of us have a responsibility to do what we can.

Those areas that have been affected will rebuild, their people heal, and laughter once again be heard. That road will be a long one, but it is one which we’ve seen navigated before by others. We succeed because we are winners, not quitters. We succeed because of the generosity and graciousness of our people, who may have varied heritages but share the common bond of citizenship within a nation that is founded on the ideals that give each of us strength in adversity and a force for doing good.

You don’t have to look far to find that spirit, for it exists right here within our community. It’s your neighbor, the man or woman you bump into in the grocery store, the first responder who comes when you call; the wonderful members of your local Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and Civitan clubs. You would have also seen that same dedication in the eyes of those that just participated in the wonderful packaging event for Meals of Hope this last weekend, or with the Optimist Club which volunteers to help with children’s team sports.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful members of Island Club’s “F Troop” or the group of individuals known as the Marco Patriots who came together in our time of crisis to help those in need on the island and within the greater Marco area.

Our destinations in life are determined by focusing on our own individual windshields, and it is my hope that while on our personal journeys that we will stop along the way to do the right thing, if only for a moment, when called upon.

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced awardwinning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at

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