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You need to put things in perspective
Jane's World
THIS LONG WINTER of the COVID-19 pandemic is getting a little long for everyone who longs for warmer weather, good times with friends and family, and just in general, getting back to normal. Jane suggests that a little empathy might make it easier for everyone.

WEST FORK KICKAPOO - Sometimes we react or fire off a comment without knowing a person’s whole story. But if we’re willing to pause and listen, our perspective might change.

Yesterday, two children were driving me bonkers in the store, as they ran around causing havoc. The woman who was with them couldn’t seem to keep them under control.

Later, I found out the lady with the energetic children was their grandma. She was taking care of them because her daughter was in the hospital.

On social media yesterday, a man giving away old but working TVs was ridiculed for offering such dinosaurs.

The man knew there are many people who don’t have a TV, or at least not one that works. Rather than put them in the landfill, he wanted to make them available to others.

Yesterday, a friend told her class about an ailment she suffers from. Before she could finish, two people had chimed in, “Oh yeah, I have that / had that too,” like it was nothing.

My friend with the ailment lives alone, was hurting, and needed someone to hear her and acknowledge her pain. How hard would that have been? 

At the co-op yesterday, a local gal was talking about how angry the Washington, D.C., Capitol riot made her. 

She is Black. She sees, from the live media coverage, the discrepancies in the way law enforcement treats white versus black demonstrators.

Recently, I watched film clips on the news of an anti-mask rally. The people marching were ranting and raving about their rights.

Some people have life-threatening conditions. Wearing your mask helps protect others whose health isn’t as good as yours. It’s as simple as caring about your neighbors, family, and friends.

The first week in November, someone on social media was looking for winter jackets in three different children's sizes. She was told that the Walmart in Viroqua sells kids’ winter jackets at a cheap price.

I’ll bet it wasn’t easy for this woman to ask for jackets for her three children, but she did because she wants her kids to be warm. She also asked because she doesn’t have the money to buy jackets—even at Walmart or a local thrift shop.

Many friends work hard at the food pantry to prepare boxes of food for people who need it. Yesterday, a recipient openly grumbled that she hoped there weren't “any more dang apples” in her box.

Admittedly, my dander was stoked while listening to her complain about a gift of food, boxed and distributed by volunteers. Did I even try to put myself in her shoes? 

The next week, this woman gifted me with the bag of apples, saying, “Here, maybe you can use these, or maybe your pig could eat them?” It was only then that I remembered she doesn’t have any means or know-how to make applesauce or an apple pie, or teeth with which to chew those apples.

Recently during work, there was a hot discussion about who uses social media and who doesn’t. Right away, someone was quick to verbally bash anyone who chooses to use it.

There are many lonely people right now whose only means of connection with others, while they stay at home, are their telephone and social media. Many independent businesses and self-employed people can benefit from the free advertising these sources offer.

Yesterday, when someone was talking about getting infected with Lyme disease, another person piped up, “I’ve been in the woods all my life and never have had it.”

The person with the new Lyme infection confided in me, “I wouldn't wish this god-awful disease on anyone. When someone tells me they have lived here all their lives and never had Lyme, I don’t get mad for their lack of empathy. I’m grateful that they’ve never had to experience it.”

Yesterday, I went to bed knowing that my life has been easier than many because I’m white, that I’m fortunate in not having any family members in the hospital, that I know generous people, and that God gave me two ears and only one mouth for a reason: to listen more and talk less.

Yesterday, I wore my mask proudly, knowing I was doing my part. I committed to putting together a bag of warm winter hats, mittens, and scarves to give someone, and I gave extra thanks that I have a full set of teeth.

Tonight, before sleeping, I’ll recommit to listening when someone is talking. I’ll work harder at my responses and my empathy. I too have had Lyme disease and would never wish it on anyone. And while I enjoy winter and don’t mind the cold, I’ll be sure to check on others who aren’t able to enjoy it as freely as I do. 

I’m going to try walking in someone else's shoes. Will you join me?