Letter: George is an example for us all

Posted 7/1/21

To the editor:There’s a whole lot of angst and outrage in our world right now. That’s why instead of writing to you with the intent of engaging in political commentary or social …

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Letter: George is an example for us all

Posted

To the editor:
There’s a whole lot of angst and outrage in our world right now. That’s why instead of writing to you with the intent of engaging in political commentary or social criticism, I’ve chosen to celebrate something instead. More accurately, I’d like to celebrate someone who brings joy to me, my family and the East Providence community.

Each and every day, I see a senior citizen walking in my neighborhood, near Pawtucket Avenue. He waves at every single car that he sees. Every. Single. One. It doesn’t matter if no one waves back. His enthusiasm is unwavering and his handsome, gentle face is always lit up with a huge grin.

It wasn’t until my kids had a lemonade stand and he politely declined a free cup that I learned his name: George.

I know nothing other than his name and yet he has inspired me to be my best self. You see, the thing about George is that he walks in all kinds of weather and he never stops smiling and waving.

It’s 92 degrees out? No matter; there he is, striding down the street. It’s freezing? There’s George, doing his thing. My kids and I start to worry when we don’t see him for a day or two.

We express our concern as we drive around our neighborhood, our eyes searching for any signs of him. We feel “off” and like something is missing when we don’t see him. When our paths do eventually cross, we honk and wave and flash him a thumbs-up. He always seems glad to receive our messages of affection.

So, why am I sharing all of this with your readers?

It’s simple. I’ve realized that George not only makes me happy, but he sets an example for all of us. Today’s culture is one in which hatred and vitriol exist just about everywhere. Productive discourse and polite disagreement have been replaced with screaming and violence. Respect for other points of view has been replaced with demonizing those who don’t agree with us. Hope has been replaced by a general sense of despair.

And, to makes matters worse, all of this is amplified on social media and it insidiously seeps into us, whether we are cognizant of that or not.
George is the antidote to all of that.

He smiles and waves at strangers. He marches onward, fearlessly, even in the worst weather. He never misses an opportunity to spread kindness and cheer. As simple as these things might seem, they are actually quite profound because they counter the ugly cultural landscape that we have created – one that promotes greed, tireless competition and self-importance.

George reminds us that sometimes smiling and waving at someone makes us feel better than getting the newest iPhone or insulting someone on Twitter or making sure our selfie looks perfect. And for all that, and more, I am deeply grateful.

Dr. Renee Somers
Riverside

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.