Are you grateful yet?
Highlands TodayI don't know about you, but I've had more than enough of this broiling heat. Maybe it's just that I'm a transplant from cooler climes and still haven't fully adjusted to the tropics, but I don't think so. This year even native Floridians are suffering. Many are saying they can't remember another summer of such unrelenting heat and humidity.
Published: August 22, 2010
Published: August 22, 2010
Still, we in Florida have much to be thankful for:
1. We've had plenty of rain this summer, but not too much. Remember the last few years when our boats and piers were stranded on dry ground? This year we're enjoying a comfortably rainy summer. Others haven't been so blessed. Devastating floods have hit Tennessee, Arkansas, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Iowa. Europe, too, has had widespread flooding, and in Pakistan floods have left more than 20 million people homeless. That's approximately equal to the whole population of Florida. Imagine it.
2. Florida's beaches have been, for the most part, spared the devastation of oil washing ashore. Tourism here is down but gradually recovering. Meanwhile, Louisiana and Mississippi have coastal wetlands and fragile ecosystems still choked with oil and sludge. Their tourism and fishing/shrimping industries are completely destroyed, at least for this year and probably beyond. And all of this comes just as they were finally recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
3. We've had no hurricanes, yet. Even the one tropical storm recorded did not take Florida in its path. It, too, hit Louisiana and Mississippi. Meanwhile, our near neighbor, Haiti, has suffered both a devastating earthquake and a near hurricane.
4. So far, we've had no significant wildfires this summer. I remember just two years ago when John and I were traveling to South Florida, barely outrunning a fire that raged across the sugar cane fields near Lake Okeechobee. It was terrifying.
Now consider what's happening in Russia, where four huge forest fires and five peat bog fires have been raging for weeks, unchecked. More than 500,000 acres have been scorched, and in the city of Moscow an average of 700 people a day are dying from smoke and heat.
Yes, Florida has high unemployment and our housing market is languishing, but the majority of us still have homes and jobs. Our kids are back in school for the fall and our government is coping. Yes, we have homeless, needy people right here in Florida. But we are not hip deep in muddy, disease-infested water while at the same time dying of thirst, like the people of Pakistan.
So where does this leave us, other than grateful?
It leaves us responsible for offering a helping hand to those less fortunate. Whether they are in Florida, across the U.S., or on the other side of the world, makes no difference. No, I can't help everyone, but I can help someone. And so can you, and you, and you.
There are as many ways to help as there are people in need. You can sift through your closets and dresser drawers for clothes you don't need and donate them. You can take a bag of groceries to a local food pantry. You can donate through almost any local church. Or you can find one of the many charitable organizations sending relief to Haiti, Pakistan, and other points of need. They all have websites that make it easy and safe to donate. Just look for the ones with good reputations and systems that protect your financial data.
No excuses; just do it. You won't regret it.
After all, it's still true, "Of them to whom much is given, much will be required." I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have to answer for what I could have done, but didn't.