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Helping hands

As a young activist driving home late, on a rural Vermont road, during a frigid winter night (20 degrees below zero), my car went off the road deep into a snow drift. This was well before cell phones, and I was in serious trouble.

I saw a light go on a half mile up the road – it was the only house for miles.

Then I saw a pickup truck make its way down the road toward me. The window rolled open, and I was shocked to see the arrogant, self-serving industry lobbyist that I had been campaigning against for weeks. He just said: “I saw what happened, let me get you out of there.”

Since then, I have traveled the world visiting communities in thirty countries and nearly every US state. Roma communities in the Balkans. African-American communities in Mississippi. Industrial communities in Bangladesh. I have been educated again and again on the power of social bonds and human decency.

It is easier to see the humanity in each other at the community level. Yet our communities in the US are fraying. We don’t interact with each other as much. We rely on our cell phones to call friends instead of relying on the kindness of strangers. We only listen to people like us.

The Presidential election reminds us of the importance and power of strong communities. Places where everyone is respected and heard. Where people come together and support each other when times are tough — where a warm smile and a helping hand from a stranger can make all the difference.

Let’s help each other in the weeks and months to come. Let’s make sure to reach out and lend a hand.