© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
Last evening, when I first heard the news, Elizabeth Edwards might be in trouble, I wrote of my concern. Could it be cancer, again? I shared what I knew and what I thought throughout our cyberspace community. I received many a beautiful comment. Scarce shared Elizabeth Edwards CBS Free Speech. Missus Edwards spoke to me.
I believe in interdependence, in equality, in people of every race, color, and creed. Much to the dismay of many, I act on my faith.
I have been teased, misunderstood, and stared at, for I speak to everyone, no matter where I go. In restaurants, I chat endlessly with my servers. The person that cleans the table or delivers the water is no less important to me than the people I am sitting with. I often befriend restaurant staff. Many have become part of my life.
When I shop, I get to know the associates. I ask for their advice. I trust their taste and value their opinions. I perceive their sense of style. As a customer, a passer-by, as a person that cares for my surroundings, I pick up merchandise or materials that have been carelessly tossed about.
Over the years, in many neighborhoods, I have befriended my mail person.
While walking, I meet the glance of those crossing my path. While in a line I will converse with those waiting with me. These persons may be employed in service jobs. They might be without a work. Their careers could be crashing, or they may be profoundly professional. It is difficult to tell who is who when people are casually dressed and doing their chores. It matters not to me.
I speak to bow-wows and kitties, birds, and squirrels. I love life. Actually, those that know me well will tell you, I believe nothing is intangible. What others define as objects are living souls to me. They too have an energy, an essence, and are essential. We are all sharing this planet together.
Elizabeth Edwards understands this. She said . . .
Did you buy groceries today? If so, who was your cashier? Who bagged your soda?Elizabeth, I relate. Friends and family, those close to me, have often said they think my life was hard. Yet, I was and am happy. I experience as you observe. "Decency costs nothing." The returns are phenomenal.
They have names, you know – and chances are they were even wearing their names on their shirts. But did you notice?
Sadly, as a country, Americans have gotten used to treating those in service positions as if they were part of the cash register, part of the conveyor belt. They aren’t.
They are mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons working hard to provide for their families. And they are working harder and earning less than most Americans who work behind a desk.
Everyone in America who works hard deserves our respect.
But too, often we fail to realize that each of us is connected to the other.
Too often, we fail to realize that each of us has a name, a life, a dream.
It is the first step in civility to acknowledge our fellow citizens, to use their names, to look them in the face and thank them for making your life not just easier but possible. The second step – which is also too rare – is to treat each other with respect and even tenderness.
I have had hard times. But my life has been easier not just because of my splendid family or my incredible friends. But because I had support from unexpected places – from Edward, my mailman; from Drew, who works at my children's school; from Sam, who bags groceries at my supermarket.
My life has been easier because the people I have treated tenderly have returned the gift. Decency, it turns out, costs nothing.
I have never felt alone. Support surrounds me. I give from the heart, for I honor all life. I receive more than I might imagine. Tender talk, a soft touch, and perchance a slight smile, treating others as though they are as important as they are, that is priceless.
Refer to references. . .