Thursday, May 6, 2021

Get Unplugged and Make a Difference

For a great many years now, I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the finest folks I’ve ever met. They are a combination of organizations, volunteers and paid staff within the city. Christmas should bring out the best in all of us, and here on Marco, it does.

I think it is a shame that we can’t have Christmas year-round and shelve the negativity that unfortunately seems to dominate headlines. But maybe that is where the problem is, in the headlines. Those irritating little eye-catchers that can be found on mastheads of papers to grab our attention at the supermarket check-out lane. 

The quick teaser on the radio that makes it nearly impossible not to turn the dial away from the station we are listening to on the radio and the lead on the 6 o’clock news that promises us a disaster of biblical proportions that we can’t seem to pry ourselves away from what I do think is appropriately nicknamed, “the boob-tube,” for more than one reason.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that pesky little device that we just can’t pry out of our hands, the cell phone. Now let me be perfectly honest, I thank God every day that they weren’t in existence when we were growing up. I shiver every time I think of a video or snapshot of the dumb things I’ve done in my life, that I certainly didn’t want to be recorded for posterity.

Now, anyone that is reading this who tells me that they haven’t done anything in their lives, that if recorded, would not be an embarrassment to them, their family, spouse, kids or grandkids must have been brought up in a vacuum or locked into a vault until now.

Right now, it is estimated that well over 4 billion people are connected on social media, one way or another. It is the most cost affordable way to communicate a message to the outside world. Media consultants are changing the way we view what cars we like, the shampoo we use and how easy it is to take a pill at night and lose 25 pounds without changing a thing about our lives.

I speak about the influence of media on today’s society because I really do believe that, unlike any other time in our history, the electronic and social media outlets, and to a lesser extent the print media have a greater influence on the next generation than in any other time in our history and our future rests on changing that.

It is why it is more important now than in any other period in our lifetimes, that we reinvest in the values of humanity which have made us such a strong nation over all these years. It is our responsibility to do what is right for a change rather than what is convenient or expedient for our own personal gain.

For myself, the opportunity I have as a reporter allows me to have so much more exposure to those that utilize their talents for doing good but also exposing me to those with less than honorable intents on occasion.

Take for example the man that spends two hours a week reading to a shut-in that never has the opportunity to be exposed to a friendly word from another on a daily basis. That two hours is priceless to that shut-in and costs nothing except a little time by the volunteer.

The men and women I met over the Thanksgiving holiday that took their time to deliver hot and notorious meals to the elderly, who otherwise might not have had that opportunity to enjoy that special treat. Every one of those great volunteers had a wonderful smile on their face and were pleased to be out there doing for others.

The great service organizations we have on the island that do so much good, but not for the recognition, but instead for the joy it brings to others and themselves.

This next-generation needs to be exposed to the good that is being done, rather than being shut in their rooms playing Xbox or other games which have become so addictive, while sucking the life out of them.

I met some wonderful young men and women this last weekend as we cleaned up the staging area for the Christmas Street Parade. They were members of the Marco Island Academy’s Soccer Team. They came out on Sunday morning at 9 AM and did an outstanding job. They were intelligent and engaging which is a great tribute to their upbringing and the quality of their surroundings and the staff at their school.

The men and women who traveled around the island to judge the many wonderful homes for the Christmas House Decorating Contest. A simple endeavor that brings so much joy to us all as we retrace their steps and inspect their choices and so many other wonderful homes. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those that took the time to decorate those homes and businesses that will provide us with that pleasure for the next two to three weeks. You all made such a difference in the lives of so many.

There is also a group of about 30 wonderful volunteers that make this time of year very special for me, and I hope for you. They are the members of the Christmas Island Style Committee. I have to tell you that you won’t have a more dedicated and wonderful group of volunteers doing so much good for so many I am proud they let me be a small part of it for 15 years.

Let’s encourage the next generation and ours to be more involved in giving rather than taking. A friend of mine told me a long time ago that we all can all be contributors in this world. We all can give at least one of the three important “T’s” in life. They are simply, Time, Talent or Treasure. Sometimes, writing a check can have less of an impact on those around us than taking a little “time” to help or “talent” to guide others. Although the check does go a long way too!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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