Love Thy Neighbor Blog #2

 

In my intro post to Love Thy Neighbor, I shared that I was a husband.  For this post, my wife, Ruth wanted to join me.  Ruth is a wonderful woman that I’m blessed to be married to.  She’s a fantastic wife and mother, highly civic-minded, and passionate about seniors.  She’s the CEO of a caregiving business that primarily provides home care to seniors. Its funny… like most seniors, she refers to her clients as “her seniors”, but I don’t think that she sees herself as a senior yet.

 

We’ve been thinking a lot about all of the recent disasters and how as a society we need to be more prepared, more ready to assist and provide aid for the most frail and vulnerable amongst us. Even in Florida, that by most accounts, is one of the most prepared states for a disaster like they experienced with Hurricane Irma, informed its residents that only seniors with caregivers could come to the shelters.  How could that be?  What were the seniors that didn’t have caregivers supposed to do?  Those seniors, the ones without the caregivers, we would think were at least as likely if not more likely to be in need.

 

There was an image that was one of those that became to define Hurricane Harvey. We were haunted by this image. It was the picture of stranded seniors, many suffering from dementia, in a nursing home type facility. The floodwaters were up to their waists. Fortunately as the owners of the home went to Twitter, their call for a lifeline was answered. The tweet went viral and shortly thereafter the residents were rescued.

 

It’s no surprise that the most vulnerable during Irma and Harvey were the elderly.  When we are developing plans, have we had in the forefront how we would get seniors mobilized and that they would be first in terms of our evacuation plans and not an afterthought? Or that all seniors, with or without caregivers, that have a need, will be served?

 

While the rescue of the seniors in the nursing home outside Houston was an incredible story about the amazing positive things that can come out of social media, it also really highlighted that as we think about our neighbors, it needs to be all of our neighbors, and Ruth and I would argue, it especially needs to be those with the most need and most frail amongst us.

 

Unfortunately, as we close this post, we have to mention the horrific Las Vegas massacre, which is another terrible disaster. However, this one is the result of one human causing the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, with 58 people losing their lives and 489 injured. These tragedies can’t continue; we must start loving our neighbor as they self.

 

Barry and Ruth

 

I welcome anyone reading this blog, to share and help plant the seeds of the spirit, essence and intent of Love Thy Neighbor.  I will periodically share some thoughts and things that inspire me with the hopes of keeping the conversation going.   Also, after hearing of so many heroes and individuals that came to help those in need in Vegas, that I have decided to begin a list of heroes and others that truly believe in and show real signs of “Love Thy Neighbor”. Send me their name, city and what they did. Until next time.

 

Barry

 

 

Love Thy Neighbor Blog #1

 

I’m a husband, a father, a grandfather, uncle and friend. In my profession I was a family physician, a professor and a business investor.  And on the side, I had a thing for gadgetry.   In all of my roles, well, with the exception of being a gadget enthusiast, I have had the opportunity to give back, to contribute to society.  And like many fortunate to make it to an older age, I am looking back and assessing my legacy.  I have a lot to be proud of such as being a good husband (I got better with this one with age) and raising children that are successful in their own right and contributing members of society.  I practiced medicine in underserved communities, like South Central Los Angeles.  I built a hospital; I was a role model for young African American physicians in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and into the new millennium. And I taught hundreds of medical students and residents with the hopes that many would find their life’s work as I did in uplifting and giving dignity to patients that might not receive that in other aspects of their lives.

 

Even with these things in my life, as an octogenarian, I still want to contribute. Ironically while I spent over 60 years practicing medicine, it is now, as my body is breaking down with age, surviving multiple cancers, having diabetes and Parkinson’s, I am really in awe of how miraculous the human body is.  But, that is a topic for a different blog.  I can’t practice medicine as I previously did, but I can still give something.  One of the great things about social media is that it can provide a platform for someone like me that still wants to play a role in society.  But one of the unfortunate things about social media is that it is also a place where people spew hatred.

 

The discourse and rancor in our society is upsetting. Watching people even in the same communities and neighborhoods treat people unkindly.  Watching people across and within gender, ethnicity, religious groups and lines tear one another down, lack compassion and often times just human decency has been the impetus for creating this blog.

 

In my 80 plus years, I have seen things that I thought that I would never see. The turbulent 60’s with a young President and civil rights leaders assassinated.  I’ve watched in awe the promise of the country when Apollo 11 astronauts walked on the moon and when the country elected the first black president; these are at the top of that list.

 

Last month, less than 10 days apart we saw extremes. Watching the recent white supremacist in Charlottesville marching in khakis and without hoods is on that list of things that I thought I wouldn’t see.  But juxtaposed Charlottesville, there were the images in Houston during and following hurricane Harvey, which give me hope.  In times of devastation, people of all walks of life pull together, help their neighbor, extend a kindness to a stranger, and show compassion.  As I start this blog today, on September 11, it probably more than anything epitomizes this dichotomy that out of peril and an atrocity like 9/11, humans will bond together.

 

So, it is in this spirit of the best of humankind, that I have decided to start this blog, Love Thy Neighbor.  My hope is that even if there are just a handful of people that are moved to comment, it was worth the effort.  If it spurs a positive instead of a mean-spirited or negative act by someone, it was worth the effort.  And, if we could start a movement towards more human kindness, that would be superb.

 

I welcome anyone reading this blog, to share and help plant the seeds of the spirit, essence and intent of Love Thy Neighbor.  I will periodically share some thoughts and things that inspire me with the hopes of keeping the conversation going.

 

Barry