“Something that I can do”

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

-2 Timothy 1:7

This is going to be a follow-up of sorts to my last post, but it’s not going to be about politics. I’ve written a lot about politics and foreign affairs stuff, but here’s the truth about “understanding the political/economic/world events” going on right now – it might prod you to invest more time, effort, resources into being more prepared, but it also likely will lead to more worrying about all those big things that we can’t do a thing to change. That’s energy wasted.

There are probably as many people in America who believe that voting Republican is the only hope for our country as there are Democrats who believe voting Democrat is the only hope. Politics isn’t going to save us.

Some of us place our faith in God, but that still requires us to get off our butts and work to save ourselves, each and every day. We can’t sit around waiting for a miracle. Even if you’re not religious, well, you’re still going to have to get off your butt and work to save yourself too. Getting worked up about all the bad news (and there are mountains of it these days) doesn’t change a single thing, except make you feel fear, anxiety or overwhelmed and it actually impedes staying focused on the things that will really make a difference in your own life.

None of us can solve the very complex and massive problems we’re bombarded with the minute we read or watch the news, but we can still take very real steps toward working on the problems and challenges in our own lives. Unfortunately, most of the people with the power to really impact or make those types of big decisions in our country seem to be less qualified than my late husband’s, almost 15 year-old rescue dog, Marius, who now gets confused a lot.

Despite whatever dire economic or other events happen, we will still have to keep plugging away, still make daily choices and still work as hard as we can to keep ourselves, our families and our communities functioning, as best we can. That’s what faith and hope are all about – we continue onward – no matter what.

In a previous post on preparedness I mentioned that each of us really needs to take a bit of time and figure out where we are, before we can plan for where we want to go. I wasn’t referring to physical location, but about where you are spiritually, emotionally, financially and if you’re married and have a family, you’ll need to figure out where they’re at too. Then try to work toward finding some common goals and assess the practical needs aspects of becoming better prepared.

Getting your head on straight, before you start rushing around in a hundred different directions to prepare, can save you a lot of wasted time and money, but also a lot of needless anxiety and worry. In our interconnected world, there’s so much information everywhere, which creates lots of distractions and noise, that can send you racing down rabbit holes, rushing to buy things that you quickly realize were a waste of money, but most of all it can derail you from staying focused on the things that really matter.

Simplifying your life requires streamlining and setting up some attainable goals, then working on those first. Many of the attainable goals don’t require spending a lot of money. They do require changing your work habits and changing your attitude.

In my early teens, I began collecting quotes, poems, verses, and mottoes that I came across and liked. Here’s one that’s always stuck with me:

I am only one  
But still I am one  
I cannot do everything  
But still I can do something.  
And because I cannot do everything  
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.  
Edward Everett Hale  

I was kind of weird, in that I always wanted to know more details, like when something was written, more about the writer, other things that writer wrote or did.

Edward Everett Hale was a Unitarian minister in the 1800s. He wrote a patriotic short story, A Man Without a Country, which became very popular during the US Civil War and was required reading in many American schools for almost a century. Hale fought for not only emancipation of slaves, but also for education for freed slaves. His most lasting achievement was he published another short story, Ten Times One Is Ten, that included the motto:

Look up and not down 
Look forward and not back 
Look out and not in 
Lend a Hand 

Here’s a short explanation of the story from the Lend a Hand Society:

“The Lend A Hand Society grew out of the response to a short story called “Ten Times One is Ten”, written in 1870 by Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909). The story tells of ten people who meet at the funeral of a mutual friend Harry Wadsworth and discover that he had financially helped each of them. They each resolve to follow the example of Wadsworth and to help their friends, neighbors and others in the community. They calculate that if each person they help would in turn lend someone else a hand (10 x 1 = 10, 10 x 10 = 100, etc.), the powerful spirit of charity and giving would spread and grow.”

After the story’s publication, groups sprang up spontaneously using his motto as inspiration and a Lend A Hand Society in Boston was formed, which still provides emergency financial assistance to low income people, senior citizens and disabled people. That sort of America “lending a hand” spirit still exists today and you can see it with how many Americans will quickly offer assistance and to help people in need.

Edward Everett Hale also did some Civil War public service work under Abraham Lincoln and actually worked with Clara Barton, the famous Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross.

If all you have time and energy for is to start working on your own family’s needs and bolstering their preparedness, that matters too. One thing I’ve found with trying to learn more about various aspects of emergency preparedness and developing skills is it’s just like with hobbies and other endeavors for me. I can quickly find myself moving in a hundred different directions, wanting to start too many things at one time. And that’s where I’ve had to struggle to work on more self-restraint and prioritizing, because it’s very easy for me to go way over budget and find myself having too much stuff and too many projects going at the same time.

Some people are natural-born teachers and mentors, I believe and in the internet age, many of them are online sharing skills and know-how on just about any topic imaginable. For all the bad stuff online, there’s also a wealth of good too. I’m working harder to seek out good and quit focusing on the bad stuff online, which takes work on my part, because I am a contrarian and can be too judgmental (yes, I am aware of that character flaw of mine – my family points it out regularly).

We can all work on the “something that I can do,” rather than trying to focus on the everything we can’t do.

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