A good neighbour

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The scriptures are quite clear that we are indeed our brothers’ keepers.  In other words, we ought to be concerned about the well-being of each other; we ought to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The Biblical parable of the good Samaritan is instructive, as are great songs such as Dionne Warwick’s THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR, and USA For Africa’s 1985 hit, WE ARE THE WORLD. If you recall, the latter was an inspiring appeal to our better angels to provide humanitarian assistance to famine-stricken Africa. Oh, what a gathering of dozens of the world’s greatest recording artists at the time, and their soul-stirring rendering of that song’s refrain: We are the world / We are the children / We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving / There’s a choice we’re making / We’re saving our own lives / It’s true, we’ll make a better day, just you and me . . . Oh, send them your heart so they know that someone cares / And their lives will be stronger and free / As God has shown us by turning stones to bread / And so we all must lend a helping hand . . .”. The world was moved to action, raising US$63 million (US$147 million in today’s money) for Africa.

Well, that haunting melody came back to this writer yesterday during a VOICE OF THE PEOPLE broadcast, when a good Samaritan put out a call for a bed for a destitute lady, whose bed had been destroyed in the extreme rainfalls of late last year. Within a minute or two, no less than five kind-hearted Antiguans responded with messages indicating that they had beds that they were willing to donate to the lady, who’d been sleeping on the floor since the flooding. Needless to say, we were moved by the spontaneous outpouring of love and compassion. We’re talking about that ‘milk of human kindness;’ the beneficence of strangers. It is a higher calling, for when we give willingly to those in distress, we are doing God’s work. May we ever be so constrained.

In that regard, it goes without saying that we should step up in a big way to help the family of a lady with girl triplets from Skerritts Pasture, who lost everything, save for the clothing on their backs, in a dastardly fire two weeks ago.  In that blaze, a gentleman and his son were also left with nothing. Under normal circumstances, this is an enormous human tragedy, but these are hardly normal times, what with Covid and all, and that sense of urgency to bring them some desperately needed assistance ought not to be ignored. Let us not be like the Jewish priest and the self-righteous Levite who crossed the road and averted their eyes from the fallen brother in the aforementioned ‘good Samaritan’ parable.  

We here at NEWSCO will be making a donation to the stricken family of triplets, and we urge all Antiguans and Barbudans to do likewise. It is the need of the hour. We note, with great satisfaction the marvellous way in which the Unique Professional Group, a body of bartenders, food and beverage servers, chefs and housekeeping workers, many of whom are out of a job on account of Covid-19, donated quite handsomely to the cause. (See DAILY OBSERVER, Monday 25th January, 2021). May the good Lord reward their generosity a-thousandfold. Not that they are looking for any material reward. After all, giving is its own reward, and nothing can beat the sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that one derives from helping a brother or sister in need.

The Antigua and Barbuda Association in Georgia has also called to provide assistance to the fire-ravaged family, as has a local group of self-employed businessmen. Talk about people helping people! It is quite gratifying.   

The late great Mighty Swallow says it best in his magnum opus, MAN TO MAN: “Help your brother, if he fallin / Help your sister, if she dyin / Help your neighbour, if he hungry / Give him water, if he thirsty / Just remember a good neighbour is your brother / In de future you may need him some day later / When you feelin a depression.” Indeed!A timeless message. Let us be thusly guided.

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