Epworth residents an example to all citizens

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2008

The issue: Citizens of Epworth House rewarded with ice cream/Christmas party.

Our position: We could all learn valuable lessons from the way the house’s residents treat one another.

Christmas six months early – now that’s a welcomed treat.

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That’s exactly what Cooper Brothers Construction Company gave elderly residents of the Epworth House, an independent living retirement complex in Selma.

Upon first look, it seems the company offered the gesture as a way of making amends for the repair work recently completed.

Cooper Brothers had been installing a sprinkler system since February, a process that has displaced several residents and, no doubt, been a little noisy and messy. That can’t be too pleasant or convenient.

But a second glance shows just how special an act that is. It also reveals a resounding statement about the gems we have in Selma.

The home’s inhabitants are racially diverse people who get along quite well with one another.

Just looking at race, however, does injustice to the greater picture.

These are people that have been alive for several decades. They have a certain way of doing things and particular opinions that might seem unchanging.

People get used to a certain style of living after that amount of time, and their dyed in the wool perceptions about life reach beyond racial boundaries.

For them to co-habitate with minimal tension is a rare and powerful thing.

“To me, we’re just people living together like sisters and brothers,” said 95-year-old Alean Givner. “I think we all get along real well.”

We can all talk about living with or tolerating one another, but to talk about someone in a familial sense takes the bonds of unity much deeper.

Adopting the attitudes of the people in the Epworth House is no surefire way to change Selma, much less the world.

But it is a beginning.

As the philosopher Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Our job as citizens is, first and foremost, to help improve the place we live in and the people who live in it.

Let us all hope it doesn’t take until the winter of our lives to figure out just how much we need one another.