What Have We Learned?
I watched the local news today and saw how people were reacting to the gas shortage caused by the southern pipeline shutdown.
Unfortunately, I was reminded of how some folks reacted to the toilet paper shortage not long ago. I saw people hoarding. Filling large gas cans with gallons and gallons, then carrying them away in the backs of their SUVs. I wonder how those folks could possibly use all the gas they had just purchased.
At the same time, I saw mothers with children desperately waiting in line with hope they could pump just enough to get to work the next day so they could support their family. I wonder if that hoarder might share some of his gas.
Thinking of Others
The Governor and others told us there was no real shortage, only a temporary disruption in the supply chain. Knowledgeable leaders asked us to be patient. They asked us to not drive and use gas unnecessarily. They asked us not to hoard. They asked us to think of others. Recalling my Facebook post from earlier this year, the words of President Roosevelt ring true once more. “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”
In June I will lead a panel discussion at the Man Up Charlotte Conference. We will talk about the challenges and struggles we all endured throughout the last year; then, we will look to the future and ask ourselves what we learned and how those lessons can make us better dads.
Our Actions are Our Character
Toilet paper and gasoline. What did our reactions say about our character? Did we listen to the experts? Did we follow the science? Did we stay calm? Did we have patience? Did we take what we really needed and leave the rest for others? Did we simply think about the needs of others?
Early in the pandemic, I went to the grocery store every week to buy groceries for my spouse and me. There were shortages of many items for a while. Toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, and fresh meats. As I shopped, I watched others around me. Did they buy what they needed, or did they take all they could? When the sign said, limit two items per person, did the couple follow the suggestion and take that limit for their household; or did they split up, and check out separately – taking a total of four and thinking they had outsmarted the system?
I watched to see who was wearing masks. Who kept their social distance? Who followed the arrows on the floor indicating a one-way aisle? Who politely stepped aside to let me pass by safely?
These behaviors are indications of how we care for others. If we listen, we know there will be enough gas for all of us. The pipeline will be up and running before we know it. When we look back, few of us went without toilet paper. In our country there is enough if we share. All over, we have seen stories of folks stepping up to help others. Food distribution lines popped up everywhere. Today, I did see video of folks sharing precious gallons of gas.
This week dads in North Carolina will make decisions about going to the gas station. Do they need the gas to get to work? Or is there enough in the tank to get them through the weekend when the gas starts flowing again? When they get to the pump will they take all they can, or just what they need? No law enforcement officer will stop them from pumping gas they do not need. No store manager is likely to cut them off.
Our children see everything we do. If you go to the pump, I ask you to explain to your children what you are doing. Why are you getting the gas? How much will you get? Ask your kids to look around at the others in line. Ask them to wonder who needs the gas most? Ask them if they think you should share?
In the last year or so, we have seen severe weather, we have experienced a once in a lifetime pandemic and now there is a gas supply disruption. Stuff happens. Some things we can work to change, some we cannot. Stuff will continue to happen. Whether we like it or not, in their lifetimes, our children will experience challenges as we have. There may be another recession, there will be more disease and there will be shortages.
Where I live, it rarely snows. So, on that one day it did, I hustled my sixteen-year-old daughter into the car and taught her how to drive on an icy street. A teachable moment that doesn’t come along very often. A lesson for her backpack. And so there is another such moment before us.
How will we deal with what comes down the pike? Will we be impatient and selfish? Or will we think and act for the greater good? Will we think beyond our own families and to the children in our community who need us, too? Do we have extra “gas in our tanks” that we can share with them?
As we begin to breathe again, we need to ask ourselves how we can use what we learned in the past year to prepare our children for the future. Together we can get through anything.