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Sat, Jan. 25

Play YES, not SEP

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A visiting friend recently jarred me with a term I had never heard of before. It was unusual enough that I had to go reheat my geezer’s never-empty coffee cup and ask him what the dickens the S.E.P. solution was all about.

As much as I hate to expose my ignorance, I had to insist on a complete and defining answer. As he explained it for the benefit of my few remaining, functioning geezer’s brain cells, the S.E.P. solution is to be observed all around us, and it is pervasive but not contagious. He said that in today’s world, when you see an unpleasant situation that demands a decision be made and it is uncomfortable for you to do so or you are too busy, you just apply the S.E.P. solution and walk away. Thus, Someone Else’s Problem.

Yup, that’s it, just walk away and pretend it doesn’t exist. How many illustrations can you think of? The starving pup shivering in the gutter? The homeless person pushing all their belongings along the sidewalk? The frightened, dirty and hungry child crying in a car next to his overdosed mother? The very old senior citizen shuffling through the grocery store trying to wring the very last cent out of his or her meager budget? How about the poor little kid who comes to school in worn out, dirty, ill-fitting clothes because mom and dad went partying three days ago and haven’t been home since?

It seems that today, despite the myriad social programs that are meant to prevent things like these, the problems still abound. I see the sleek, over-dressed, over-perfumed, pompous young woman turn away with the comment, “I don’t like ugly things, so I just pretend they aren’t there.” I see an overfed businessman kick the starving pup away. I see a rowdy teen slap a hamburger out of the hands of a hungry boy just to impress his cohorts. I see veterans sitting on a park bench endlessly staring at nothing because they suffer PTSD and are frightened and confused. We see politicians who are caught in misdeeds and go unpunished. These sorts of things are all around us and people ignore them when a small act of kindness or an attitude correction would help the problem. Far too many people see it as Someone Else’s Problem.

That someone else is me, and it is you, and your bowling buddy, and the guy next door, and your mom, and the preacher, and the school teacher. It’s all of us.

What if you are in trouble and I am standing right next to you and I apply the S.E.P. solution to you and to your problem? What does that make me?

I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to become a large part of your problem just because I want it to be Someone Else’s Problem. I want to be able to look in the mirror and like the person I see looking back at me. I have seen more of the sick, the hopeless, the dying and the dead than I could ever hope to avoid. I want to see eyes lighted with hope, I want to see frightened and confused souls stand and go forward with life. I want to be part of the cure, not part of the problem. I am already heavily involved in community affairs, but I can make time for more. I have a challenge for you as you read this.

Give just one hour a week to doing something good, anything at all, for anybody you can or to any cause you like, and then try to persuade a friend to do the same. If you and your friend each pass that challenge on to others, the momentum will grow, and we can hope the effort and the results will be wildly contagious.

Don’t play the Someone Else’s Problem game, instead play the Yes Everyone’s Special game and see just how high you can score in your own eyes. You’ll be surprised just how good it can feel.

Play YES and be a winner!

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