December 5, 2012
The cold weather is here, mostly, and the holidays are rapidly approaching our lives. After thanksgiving the Siena Center hosted the annual advent lecture, this year inviting Mary Jo Leddy, Ph. D., to speak. Leddy told impactful stories, including one about a refugee who came from an African country to the house where Leddy worked. The two sat on the porch and the girl kept asking Mary Jo, “Who lives outside?” Leddy kept responding that no one lives outside; all she saw was the yard and garage. Finally she realized that the girl was asking about the garage, and she responded, “No one lives there. That is the house for the car.” Leddy soon realized she had more than she realized and then attempted to turn the garage into an extra room for refugees to sleep in.
This sobering reminder holds a message that is applicable to everyone in a privileged situation. There are many things that perhaps we take for granted or do not fully appreciate. The holiday season was originally rooted in good values and morals, but elements of our culture have made the meaning a bit blurry. Commercialism has turned the holidays into a spending extravaganza but Dominican University has done a good job of not letting this affect its attempts to help others. There have been a multitude of programs and events such as Adopt-a-Kid, the Hunger Banquet, and food drives that allow members of the Dominican community to donate their goods or time to others in need. It is great to see a University participates so fully in the true holiday spirit by giving back to those who truly need it. Although Dominican is adamant about helping others, we must not let these programs be the furthest extent of our work.
Across the border of beautiful River Forest lies the Austin neighborhood, a crime-ridden and highly impoverished area. A couple of blocks can visually tell us what neighborhood we are in, going from beautiful houses to a less appealing area. This is how close the less fortunate are, literally right next to us. Let us not sit in the comforts of our wonderful University and forget about those closest to us in need.
The true spirit of advent and of Christmas is to share with those closest to us, and also to help those in need.
Saying “I don’t have time” to help someone is close to saying “I don’t want to.” There will always be people in need, and there will always be people with too much and the ability to help. Let us open our eyes to the reality that some people are living in and do what we can to help make change.
May everyone have a safe and wonderful holiday with whomever you share it with. Hopefully the New Year brings renewed spirit and hope to us all.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone.