A tradition of caring

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Christmas Eve — there’s probably not an easier time to sense the milk of human kindness flowing through our veins.

Doors are held open, greetings tossed back and forth between strangers with a smile — heck, even cash-strapped animal shelters like Heavenly Creatures in St. John’s can put out an urgent appeal for pet food and find their shelves suddenly groaning with months’ worth of supplies.

It’s not limited to this province; other places see it, too, that sudden seasonal rush of goodwill, donations made to organized charities and street people alike.

The holiday season does seem to bring out the best in many people.

But there’s something else in this province that people can rightly hold onto, perhaps not as unique, but certainly as a defining element of what it means to live here.

Here, kindness is not a mere annual occurrence. When urgent needs occur, people here step up —regardless of the time of year — with donations of money, time or goods, and they do it with a kind of regularity that is most assuredly central to here.

It’s hard to count the number of times that the media reports on the outflowing of support to a family that loses their home due to fire, or to people struggling with family illness or medical bills.

Those who benefit from the largesse are often staggered by the sheer volume of it — when you interview them, you can hear the wonder in their voices, the discovery that even strangers can care enough to act.

Neighbours here help each other, and they see their neighbourhoods as stretching wide.

It’s quite something in the Western World, a world that, more and more, has come to define itself as more insular and self-supporting. It’s too bad if something nasty happens to your neighbour, but, hey, it’s not your problem.

That kind of sentiment reached a kind of apogee when federal Industry Minister James Moore said in a media interview, “Is it the government’s job — my job — to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.”

He later apologized, but the sentiment was clearly laid out: your duty of care ends with your own.

Perhaps, Canada as a whole, is getting colder, our government pushing us to a more hard-

hearted place where it’s everyone for themselves, where the poor, the unlucky and the broken have only their own bootstraps or the curb to look forward to.

Here, thankfully, we have always seen our neighbours’ needs as our own, and whatever the season, we still see it as our job to help if our neighbours are in trouble.

Let’s do our very best to make sure that part of this place never changes.

We have too many hard hearts in this world, and not nearly enough warm ones.

Geographic location: Canada

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