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Here's to all the random acts of good will

IN West Virginia, a particularly religious place, folks find plenty of references in the Bible that make it clear that giving is an important part of Christian life.

For example, Paul reminded the Galatians that followers of Christ have a responsibility to "help carry one another's burdens."

But one doesn't have to be particularly religious to appreciate the moral obligation many feel to help others. It's understood that generosity is a virtue.

And so when the snow piled up and the lights flickered out, West Virginians followed their natural instincts. They secure themselves and their families, and then head out into the mess to see how they can help others.

Some grab chainsaws and help clear  roads. Those with four-wheel-drives run errands for those who can't get out. Folks check on neighbors and share limited supplies of essentials.

Meanwhile, first responders are working around the clock.

Granted, these folks chose their line of work. Still, it's a challenge to leave family behind while concentrating on seemingly endless relief efforts for others.

Naturally, there are times of frustration and even desperation, especially for those who are likely going to be without power for a week or more. The power company had time to bring in extra manpower, but repair work has been slowed by the magnitude of the storm and by broken transmission lines in hard-to-reach areas.

The power companies and the first responders ask for patience, which tends to run short the longer people are inconvenienced. But forbearance is required to make it through the storm.

As Robert Frost said, "The only way out is through."

The bright side - and amazingly there is one in this mess - is that lives will be touched by thousands of random acts of goodwill. Human beings are flawed, but I'd like to think most people know the right thing and will do it, even against challenging circumstances.

Generosity has its own reward. We feel good when we do for others.

Psychiatrist Judith Orloff says giving away creates our own sense of abundance within ourselves.

If that's the case -and I'm sure it is -West Virginia should come through this storm with a kind of exhausted euphoria.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.


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