Jan Archer: Let’s go with ‘we’ over ‘me’ | TheUnion.com

Jan Archer: Let’s go with ‘we’ over ‘me’

I totally agree with Lew Sitzer’s recent Other Voices and and have been thinking about what he said. Since the beginning of our lockdown here in Nevada County — about 18 months ago — I have increasingly wondered about the selfishness of a large number of people who are only thinking of “their rights” and not the rights of all of us.

I thought of the number of absolute tragedies we have experienced over the past years and how the county and the country has reacted.

9/11 stands out as a time when the country stood together — grieving at the horror that New York City endured and the areas of grieving people who lost loved ones at the sites.

Not everyone here could go to the East and help physically, but we responded with donations. I remember the lines of people waiting to give to the “boots“ of the firefighters, etc., who stood in the middle of the road. It didn’t matter if it was a dollar or change or much more than that.

Now we hear that so many are only thinking of “their“ rights and not wanting to do what the powers that be designate the best for all of us.

People attacking others and blaming them, shouting at people wearing masks and trying to keep a distance, and behaving in front of their children when things don’t go their way, happy to take the money that has come their way from federal and state governments.

No wonder our children are confused and sad. They don’t understand all of the bickering and more.

Many children are lucky to be in the right atmosphere — a home with parents who are doing their utmost to see that the children are happy. Some have computers to do their homework and parents who arrange Zoom play dates and fun things to do with the TV or computers.

And then we have the people who are arguing in front of the children about sports, masks and vaccinations and where to stand and where not to, and to reinforce how much they are missing by not being in school.

I thought about the differences of when I grew up, along with so many others in England, Europe and now the Middle East and other troubled parts of the world. Children living in boxes and rubble by the thousands in the Middle East — their young faces so excited that “Sesame Street” was granted a lot of money to produce the program in a fairly common Middle Eastern language and the joy it brought to them via movie cameras and screens.

I thought of my own childhood in London, England, born at the start of World War II. My mother was given a gas mask to fit me and was told to carry it with her at all times.

We lived in our coal cellar without heat, electricity and very little food for five years. I slept in an old iron sea trunk with the lid half propped open and everyone on our block knew where to find me (even the air raid warden).

After the war ended, my mother or father (my father was a policeman in London working on rescue, etc.) or grandma walked me to school — straight to school. Bombed areas still had unexploded bombs on them. We picked up other children as we walked along, mothers who for the first time going early to work because their husbands and fathers of their children had never returned from the war. And all of those five years I lived in fear of bombs dropping on my home and me and my family.

I am 80 years old and still am frightened of thunder and lightning, and small confined places, and every now and then a noise reminds me of something unpleasant far into the reaches of my memory.

But Mom and Dad and Grandma did their best to give me some happiness. We sang, I learned to read and sew and embroider and make paper decorations for Christmas from flour paste and water (for water we had to walk each day and got flour from the rationing).

We didn’t have a phone. The radio didn’t always work, and we could only pick up a station from Luxemburg. If you want to see a toddler get angry you should have been in the cellar with us while part of the Ovaltineys’ Club for children was blocked by air raids!

So perhaps the difference in this country is that many parents have not had to experience what we had to during the war. They have had the means to afford so much for their children. But there are people — especially those in the armed services — who have experienced hardship in their lives and are now having to deal with PTSD.

The disgruntled need to step it up and show kindness and caring. We all have our opinions, but we must come together and be an “us” and not a “me and only me” society and be inclusive of each other.

You don’t have to love everyone but you need to care and take care, and do what is right for this country and not just for you and you alone. I wish you safety, health and a better time for us all, with kind thoughts.

Jan Archer lives in Grass Valley.

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