News and Tribune

April 23, 2014

ANDERSON: My friend Diane

By BARBARA ANDERSON
Local guest columnist

— Last week was a tough week — lots of anger from people over life’s little intercessions.

A really challenged young woman needed help. Lots of it. She was working so hard to make ends meet, a job with a local pizza company, three babies (one special needs) and she managed it for the most part.

When she couldn’t pay the light bill for several months, she came for help. I was so prepared to be angry with her and to really “give it to her” for not paying the bill or making an attempt to; I wanted to make her see the error of her ways. She wasn’t homeless, but she was going to be without help.

Sometimes I think God sends us people to remind us where we are and who we are. She was such a person. The anger dissipated quickly as I did the budget, looked at where her expenses had gone and then how hard things had been for her. She wasn’t on welfare, she was working, busting her chops as a single mother and doing a good job, but she was really tired and after seeing what she was up against so was I.

We got the bill paid, and she breathed a sigh of relief before leaving and telling me thanks for treating her like a real person. I felt ashamed of the initial reaction I had to her and promised myself to remember that day, and I will.

The rest of the week was much of the same — a family looking for a long lost brother, finding him, and then losing him again. There also was the task of trying to access services for people when few are available. The small things were overwhelming.

And then, on Thursday, my friend Diane called. She was upset and genuinely wanting to do something right away about some newscasts she had seen. They were about the Ukrainian Jews having to be registered and all of their belongings being registered as well. The fear and anxiety in her voice were real.

We have to do something, she said. At first I laughed; it had been one of the busiest, most frustrating weeks I’d had in a long time I didn’t think I was up to solving the problems of the Ukrainian Jews.

As I listened though, I slowed down. As I slowed down, the same dark fear Diane was feeling came over me. Hadn’t we heard this before? Before people were gassed, weren’t they registered? Didn’t we think it wouldn’t go any further? Didn’t we get to busy to get involved until it was too late for 6 million people?

I don’t know what I can do, but I will do something — even if it is just to call and register my concerns with my congressman. Just saying the words: “They are registering Jews and all of their belongings” seems surreal. Nothing like that could ever happen again, right?

Not as long as we get involved now, not as long as the world pays attention and refuses to let it continue or go any further, not as long as we remember we are connected as a people. We depend on each other to keep us all safe. We need to remember and to use that memory to keep the world safe and humanity even safer.

Every day, I witness man’s inhumanity to man. Every day, I witness the goodness and Godliness in man for their fellow human beings. It is a paradox.

Broken people needing help in a system that is inadequate and inaccessible can make for a frustrating week, but at least we have the ability to try to access services and we have the desire to do better; I truly believe that.

One of the most difficult concepts I face daily is that people are hurt by people while others tolerate it. I could hear that in my friend Diane’s voice.

She didn’t want people to be registered, but to be treated like human beings, she did not want history to repeat itself, and she wanted to be part of a movement that would stop it from going any further. I promised her I would do something. So, in that I will call congressman Todd Young, Sens. Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly, and anyone else I can think to call until someone tells me what we plan to do as Americans about Ukrainian Jews being required to register themselves and their belongings, and I will ask them to communicate with us about the situation and keep us informed.

Why, because it isn’t so far away, the Ukraine. I actually know people there — good people who are probably horribly confused about what is happening in their country.

If one of us is jeopardized, then all of us are in harm’s way. Please take a moment this week, do a Google search of the situation in the Ukraine; Google poverty, Google the mentally ill and the lack of treatment, Google drugs in America, and do something. Even if it is just a call, do something.

Do it because it is right. Do it because you care. And do it for my friend Diane.

— Barbara Anderson, Jeffersonville, is executive director of Haven House Services Inc. Reach her by email at barbanderson_1@yahoo.com