Lending a helping hand

johnny_automatic_playing_dress_up

If I was to ask a group of six year olds what a friend is, I would receive responses such as:

  • A friend is someone who plays with you
  • A friend is someone who likes you
  • A friend is someone who helps you
  • A friend is someone who looks after you when you’re hurt

For just over two years now a group of writers have formed a bond of friendship by playing together each week, responding to a flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. You couldn’t get a more supportive group of writers. In fact, a while ago I coined the term S.M.A.G. (Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude) to express the relationship many of us feel.

SMAG ccbyncnd

This week Lisa Reiter, who blogs at Sharing the Story, showed that the ability to lend a hand is not restricted to friends who live close by. Although they live at opposite sides of the Atlantic and half the world away from each other; and despite the fact that no request for help had been made, like the true friend that she is, Lisa saw a need and immediately assisted Charli by writing this week’s flash fiction prompt and post. You won’t be surprised to know that the theme is helping out.

This ties in beautifully with a TED talk I listened to this week. The talk by Australian humanitarian Hugh Evans is titled What does it mean to be a citizen of the world?  Hugh talks about the organisation he co-founded: Global Citizen; which is described on the website in this way:

Global Citizen is a community of people like you. People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges—and use their power to get other people involved too.

We bring you stories and actions that make a difference. That help fight extreme poverty and inequality around the world, and support approaches that will make life more sustainable for people and the planet.”

EarthsOtherSide

These are some of the points I have brought away from Hugh’s talk:

  • A global citizen is “someone who self-identifies first and foremost not as a member of a state, a tribe or a nation, but as a member of the human race, and someone who is prepared to act on that belief, to tackle our world’s greatest challenges.”
  • Hugh describes himself as “one of those seriously irritating little kids that never, ever stopped asking, “Why?” He went from asking questions like, “Why can’t I dress up and play with puppets all day?” to why couldn’t he change the world?
  • He had already been raising large amounts of money for communities in the developing world when, at age fourteen, he spent a night in a slum in Manila and thought, “Why should anyone have to live like this when I have so much?
  • “that of the total population who even care about global issues, only 18 percent have done anything about it. It’s not that people don’t want to act. It’s often that they don’t know how to take action, or that they believe that their actions will have no effect.”
  • Hugh initiated the Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park. Tickets for the festival couldn’t be bought, They had to be earned by taking action for a global cause. He said, “Activism is the currency”.
  • By becoming a global citizen one person can achieve a lot because they are not alone – there are now hundreds of thousands of global citizens in more than 150 countries

“We, as global citizens, now have a unique opportunity to accelerate large-scale positive change around the world. “

“Global citizens who stand together, who ask the question “Why?,” who reject the naysayers, and embrace the amazing possibilities of the world we share.”

He finishes his talk with the challenge:

“I’m a global citizen. Are you?”

Hugh’s contribution to the world is a great recommendation for encouraging children to ask questions, isn’t it?

 

Here is his talk if you would like to be inspired by his own words. You may find other points that speak more clearly to you.

This brings me back to Lisa’s helping hand which, while not on the same scale, clearly demonstrates the opportunities that exist to help if we take the focus from ourselves and place it on others in an attempt to understand their situations and how we might be able to assist.

Lisa’s prompt is to In 99 words (no more, no less) write about offering to help someone. What’s their situation? What’s yours? Do they think they need help? How is it received? Could you be misinterpreted?

child helping

For my flash, I’m bringing you back even closer to home, to a situation with young children that will be familiar to many. Little ones love to help and hate to be helped in almost equal measure. “Let me do it!” and “I can do it myself!” are two frequently heard phrases in households with little ones. Opportunities for both are essential for their developing sense of self, independence and confidence. Both require a great deal of patience on the part of parents and a larger allocation of time than one would normally feel necessary. I think I must have been in a rush and didn’t have time to wait in the queue when patience was being dished out. Fortunately, my children shared some of theirs with me. Sadly, not always soon enough for their benefit. (Sorry, Kids.)

A playdate at Bella’s

Mummy checked the calendar. Oops! Her turn for cake. Dulcie was engrossed playing. Great! Just enough time, if ….

Scarcely was everything out when up popped Dulcie. “Let me do it!”

Too pressed for winnerless battles, Mum kept one eye watching Dulcie, the other on the clock.

With the cake finally baking, Mummy suggested clothes to wear.

“No! I want this one,” pouted Dulcie.

 “Let me help with the buttons.”

“No! I can!” objected Dulcie.

Only thirty minutes late, with warm cake and buttons all askew, they arrived.

“Come in,” greeted Bella’s mum, “Looks like you need a hand.”

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

31 thoughts on “Lending a helping hand

  1. Bec

    I love this post & your discussion of the ‘global citizen’. Certainly this is something to which we should all aspire! It’s very “salient” to theory on social identity too, which as you know is a big part of my PhD. So maybe that’s why this concept grabs me so much. Thanks for sharing this great thought! I also loved your FF. I could feel the contained urgency of the mother, but also wanted a few more words added to the 99 limit so it could end with her saying ‘I DON’T NEED A HAND THANK YOU VERY MUCH’. That’s what I felt was in order! Even if the remark from the friend was meant with kindness…

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    1. Norah Post author

      I knew the idea of a Global Citizen would appeal to you.
      Interesting that you would have the mother say she didn’t need a hand. I think being able to accept an offer of help is an important trait. Too often we think we need to do everything on our own and that it is a sign of weakness to accept or ask for help. Sometimes we need to put our pride aside and say, “Yes, I could do with that helping hand please.” I could imagine the Mum gratefully accepting a cup of coffee and sinking into a comfy chair for a few minutes respite and rejuvenation.
      Thanks for offering a different perspective.

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      1. Bec

        Oh yes, I see what you mean. I suppose I viewed the comment as being perhaps with an undercurrent of judgment at the messy buttons – as if they weren’t good enough. But I was also expecting something like that based on the prompt suggesting offers for help might be misinterpreted. I think I prefer your perspective – cup of coffee and a comfy spot.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I was thinking it was another mother understanding just how the morning had played out! Goes to show how innocent actions can be misinterpreted. Thanks for pointing that out. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: A Helping Hand « Carrot Ranch Communications

  3. Sherri

    You amaze me how week after week you bring whatever prompt Charli sets – or Lisa, in this case, and yes, a huge thank you to our friend Rough Writer for taking up the reins – you dove tail into a wonderfully inspiring, educational, resourceful and beautifully heart-warming post, this one no exception. Gobal Citizenship is something I’ve not heard of before (I will have to return to the video as soon as I get the chance), what a tremendous gift to the world. It puts me to shame though, I am in the huge percentage of people who wonder what difference I can really make and so cannot think of where to begin on a larger scale, yet it is always at a grass roots level from which everything springs isn’t it? And your flash is delightful, brings back so many memories. You captured the childhood dynamic between wanting help but hating it too so perfectly. And then the offer of help from another perspective…how sweet the sound! Love this post Norah, it’s wonderful 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your warm, encouraging and thoughtful response, Sherri. I’m like you say, sitting in that silent majority of inactivity. I hope this video and movement will inspire me to do a little more. I wasn’t aware of the Global Citizen before and I think it is wonderful. I guess different things inspire different people to action, but I always wonder why there has to be so many different ones. Surely the results would be better if everyone just pulled together.
      I’ve done the prompt at the ranch this week, so have already done my flash!
      I’m pleased the situation in this one was recognisable.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Hugs.

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  4. Lisa Reiter

    …Arrives in a cloud of dust.. 🐎💨 Been riding my horse all over the place busy helping left, right and centre BUT when I think more deeply about it, I am only truly a Citizen of the First World. To be a global citizen really means getting out of our comfort zone and the few monthly payments I make to charitable organisations or buying fair-trade etc only go part way to ease my guilt on this one. It is a brilliant concept to shake us up and out of our privileged lives. I love the currency of activism.. I’m feeling poor in contrast.
    Love the transition of your post to children and their independence – it varies so much doesn’t it, that determination through to tantrum to do things they see others achieving and then there’s the “You do it” when something is hard – and because it’s hard but perhaps they need to learn, you have to be so patient to not just take over! I don’t remember myself as ever being patient enough Norah, but I expect we both were.. (We were just screaming inside!) I was relieved to hear myself on video (only last week, funnily enough – reviewing home videos we have never watched) ask Max aged about 4 “Well, what have you tried?” and then, “What about trying the scissors?”
    Simon and I laughed at the thought I had ever been that patient! Lol

    A lovely flash.. I remember exactly these harried affairs – the almost dreaded offer of help when there isn’t time! But we so need to encourage the behaviour or perhaps we train the next generation of bystanders?!

    ❤️ Thank you for playing and for helping me and out rounding by up responses. Jeez, I can’t even complete a task!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for riding in in a cloud of dust! I’m pleased you made the time. You have been a busy gal, here, there and everywhere.
      I love your description of a patient-appearing exterior while screaming inside. “They” say children pick up on the subliminal messages. I think my children must have got a few mixed ones. They turned out pretty well though, I think. 🙂
      I’d love to see the video of you and little Max. It’s makes me laugh, thinking about what the scissors may have been useful for. (Sorry, I have the weirdest sense of humour!)
      I hadn’t thought about the importance of not training a generation of bystanders. I think the Global Citizen movement is trying to avoid just that.
      Thanks for a wonderful, thoughtful comment.

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      1. Lisa Reiter

        I was allowing him to help me decorate! Can you believe it?! A level of patience I do not remember! The scissors were to open a packet with a new brush or roller in. I must see if I can work out how to edit a clip out! Great post, thank you xx

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        1. Norah Post author

          Yes please. I’d love to see that clip!
          Thank you for describing the situation. I’m sure you were always patient. Like you I can’t remember it, but I sure can remember the times I wasn’t. While there were too many of those, I hope they weren’t too frequent. I’m sure it was the same for you.
          I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. Take care. I’m in the saddle this week (hope I don’t fall off like last time I was on a horse! Tee hee!)

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thanks Lisa. Any tips greatly appreciated. I was totally flabbergasted at how you replied to everyone over at the ranch. I’m going to struggle to keep up with that, but I’ll do my best. Might be able to ride on over every couple of days though. You sat tall in the saddle. Inspirational. Thanks.

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  5. Sarah Brentyn

    Love that term. 🌍 Global Citizens. Feels right. Great post.

    Great flash, too. I’ve been there. On both sides! How many times I’ve just done something my kids wanted to do because we were late and it was quicker to do myself. *cringe*

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    1. Norah Post author

      It is a great term, isn’t it? I thought of you and your boys as I listened. I knew you would all be “rich” in the currency. You are great models.
      As far as cringing goes. None of us are perfect: not a parent, not a child, not a situation. Sometimes all three work just the way we want, other times *cringe*.
      As long as we recognise those times and work to decrease the incidence I think we’re going okay. Sometimes the situation takes over and we’ve got no chance!
      Enjoy! xo

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  6. thecontentedcrafter

    Another excellent post Norah and I am thrilled you are spreading the word for the Global Citizen Foundation. Another good thing happening in the world that we won’t hear about from the media 🙂 Love your flash – you got a particular three year old I remember living with perfectly! xoxo

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Pauline. I’m spreading the word maybe. Now I just need to start spending (or collecting?) the currency!
      I’m pleased the flash rang true. My granddaughter proved to me the other day that what I was thinking was correct. I just wasn’t sure if I’d portrayed it well enough.

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  7. katespencer17

    Norah, there are gems of valuable insights in your posts and the same holds true for this one. I personally relate to the parent and patience. My lists are always so full that I’m often rushing and timing things to the last second in order to get somewhere on time. Having a child who chooses that moment to “I can do this myself” is very trying indeed! I felt the mother’s frustration in your flash, the tension and I loved the compassion Bella’s mom shows at the end. Perfect.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Kate. I’m pleased the flash worked. It is certainly a familiar experience to me, and I now see my four year old granddaughter doing the same things. Is it a behaviour more common in girls that boys? I don’t remember it in my son, nor my grandson so much, but definitely my daughter and granddaughter. I hadn’t thought about that before.

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        1. Norah Post author

          That’s probably true. I was thinking of clothing issues. I don’t think I ever had those with my son, but my daughter and granddaughter both knew just what they wanted to wear, whether appropriate to the occasion or not. I finally came to realise that if they wanted to wear them, then it was appropriate, whether anybody else thought so or not! Thanks for the reminder.

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  8. Annecdotist

    Great post, Norah, and I see what you mean now by your comment on my blog about a more important currency than money. This is a great idea.
    I love your flash and agree it’s really hard/impossible to have the patience to be always able to go at the pace of very young children. But not that I’d want to discourage your children, but I’m sure you had a good enough amount of patience to let them help you, and are now doing the same for your grandchildren.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Anne. You are always encouraging. I didn’t learn patience as I was growing up. I didn’t see evidence of it at all. Being a redhead, I thought it was just part of the stereotype. Fortunately Hub is very patient, and my children have benefited from that. I have grown in patience, but it is hard work changing old habits. Learning to stop, breathe and think before reacting was (is) very important. What is interesting about the redhead stereotype is that both my children and both my grandchildren are redheads and none of them inherited the trait. That’s a very good thing. Some of my siblings (who are not redheads) did though. Hmm, nature or “nurture”. That old debate.

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  9. Sacha Black

    lovely thought provoking post as always. I hadn’t heard the term citizen of the world before, so thank you for introducing me to it. I will have to put that ted talk on my to watch list. I love the term, it really rings true for me, I think it has put a term/name to something I have felt for a long time. Someone recently told me that there is no such thing as race. Its a social construct. And when i thought about it, it made total sense. OF course there’s no such thing, our genetics are no different whether we are black or chinese or white… so how can we be different races or species. This ridiculous world wide civil war we have between us is bonkers. And the thing is, its not the people of the world, its not you, or me, or any other normal person on the planet. its the leaders secretly driving it into the ground. Sad really. Lovely flash as always

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    1. Norah Post author

      Sad indeed. Interesting you talk about race being a social construct. I totally see that. Actually after a discussion I had with family a little while ago I googled ‘race’ and came up with the same answer. I felt I must have done a Rip Van Winkle and slept through the change. It’s not what I learned in school and I didn’t realise . We are progressing! Yay! That’s a good thing. I love the term global citizen too. I must admit that I haven’t amassed a lot of currency though – will have to change that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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