Southern style: a heart that beats at home

tsj column writers - southern styleBy Randall Franks

Have you ever wondered where the heart of a community lies?

Is it in its elected leadership? Is it within the works of the members of its local churches? Perhaps within the framework of the civic clubs and fraternal organizations?

The heart of a community beats within each of us, if we only take the time to share its rhythm with those around us. As we walk down the street do we carry with us a frown or do we smile from ear to ear spreading a joy for life?

When we see something that needs to be done in our community do we drive on by, thinking that’s not my responsibility or do we attempt to correct the problem?

Are you someone that makes a difference in the world? Are you changing the community that lives within and without?

We can easily be disheartened by what we see each day on television and in the newspapers, the bombings, the illness, the starvation. Most people who see it say ‘Isn’t that terrible,’ and then begin calling out letters as they watch “Wheel of Fortune.”

Now there absolutely nothing wrong with checking our spelling abilities, I do it myself. But while most of us do not have the ability to bring relief from the problems of far away lands, there are plenty right in our own back yards. There are homeless people, homeless children. There are those who when they get up in the morning don’t have anything to eat.

As I look around there is always something that can be done; what about all the trash that litters the sides of the roads; there aren’t enough prisoners who are cleaning to make the once pristine scenic roads look as they once did. Instead of throwing that cup, can or Big Mac box out the window, why not carry a trash bag in your car and throw it away when you reach a trash can? Spend a little time picking up a public area or along a roadside.

What about cleaning up over-grown cemeteries? I remember a time when families actually thought it was their responsibility to keep the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried clean, mowed, weeded and the stones all in repair. A couple of times a year everyone planned a day, one of them use to be Decoration Day, the families had dinner on the grounds and made those cemeteries look as well manicured as any federal military cemetery. Today instead of hearing about young people cleaning them up we hear the tragic news of them defacing these resting-places for those who built our communities.

Do you know of a needy person who is too sick to keep up their own home or can’t afford the repairs on their house, wonder what can be done about that?

I ask all these questions in full knowledge that there are a few devoted souls out there saying I do that or my club is doing that or our church is doing that. I applaud each of you for your efforts, but as you know until we each and every one get up, get out and do something, it is then and only then the heart of our community will beat on all its chambers, no matter where you call home if we all do not pitch in to resuscitate the vital elements of our community, heart failure could be imminent.

Now I know first hand that there are good deeds shared each week in every little town, many churches take on youth building projects or helping families in need; Habitat for Humanity builds homes, the Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, all have special areas of service that they share; and there are countless other programs started everyday to help fill a need.

Do you see a need that is not being filled in your community? Is there something you can do to meet that need?

Many would say well I am just one person what can I do? My friend every thing starts with just one person trying to make a difference.

If I learned anything from watching my parents it is that through our hands other people’s burdens can be lifted through prayer and especially through our deeds to help make a difference. It lightens our own hearts and makes those of the helped beat much easier, so each deed helps to set the rhythm of the heart of our community.

Does your community need the service of a defibrillator to bring it around; maybe you can give it the charge it needs. Give it a try.

(Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers II : Walking with the Masters.” He is a syndicated columnist for http://randallfranks.com/ and can be reached at rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com.)

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