By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

29 August 2011

You’ve see the T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers saying Army Strong. It is time show Community Strong.

Even though it was over forty years ago I remember Boot Camp pretty well. Boys were made into men in eight weeks both physically and mentally. At that time, as now, many went off to war and not all came back. Boys from all over the country, with all kinds of back rounds, were brought together to gain the knowledge, discipline, and tools to become Our Nations defenders of freedom.

Today we have hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes in many parts of the country. Today we have all kinds of people with all kinds of back rounds in need of assistance and our greatest resource is people. The country may be broke, but our people’s spirits are not broken. It is because of our people’s spirits and resourcefulness that we will rebuild.

There are two examples of Community Strong I would like to share with you. One is where a neighbor was able to cook on his stove because he had a manual, not electric, gas stove and oven when the electricity was out for days because of a storm. His neighbors either had electric stoves or electric starts to their stoves and ovens. He invited his neighbors in to share the use of his stove and oven in order that his neighbors could enjoy a hot meal. The story never made the papers and it was not supposed to.

The second example of Community Strong is where a neighbor offered to put another neighbor’s frozen foods in his freezer just because he still had electricity and the other neighbor’s electricity was out because of Irene. It is not known when it will be back on.  Neither neighbor called a press conference.

Neighbors have been helping neighbors for a very long time, even before formal governments were formed. It was neighbors helping neighbors that formed the basis for formal governments.

As we know there are groups of people who help each other out because they are in a similar circumstance, even though they may not otherwise do so. This is also the idea behind support groups.

Whether it is Habitat For Humanity, American Legion, AA, NAMI, or other helping organizations they are designed to help others while helping each other. Each organization has a purpose and a mission to help a certain portion of the population with certain needs.

NAMI and other organizations that assist family and friends of people who have been affected by the medical condition of a mental illness, as well as those who have a medical condition of a mental illness, don’t receive the same status as Habitat For Humanity, American Legion or AA in people’s minds.  This is the stigma that needs to be eradicated.

In this particular trying time hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes it is especially urgent that neighbors help neighbors. One urgent way neighbors should be looking out for each other is looking for signs of despair, depression, anxiety, or worry about their present circumstances, especially if they just lost everything they own. When we knew our neighbors we could more easily tell when our neighbor was in distress. Often times a good listening ear is what is really needed.  I can’t give you any specific advice other than to observe, listen, talk with, and if needed refer someone to a professional for assistance.

We can’t depend on our government for much assistance to rebuild. We can depend upon our greatest resource; which is each other. There are no shortages of needs, pick one or more that you can help with and go to work. Show how you are Community Strong.

VIDEO Time To Heal

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

2 November 2020

We have just come through one of the most divisive presidential election seasons I have seen.  There was possibly a more contentious election presidential election in 1864.

President Trump and President Lincoln had fallen into the same horrendous situation – becoming victims to the dramatic refusal of American Democrats to accept their Republican Presidents. (1) Both found a way to communicate directly with the people. Both found innovative ways to address current situations. Both served in the White House during very contentious and volatile times: Lincoln had the War Between the States; and Trump has the current riots, looting, and property destruction by well supplied organized groups. (2) 

While Trump has waged a war of words with the media and would undoubtedly like to silence his fiercest critics, Lincoln actually did. Faced with an armed Rebellion by eleven Southern states, he desperately needed to keep in the Union the four border states where slavery was legal [Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky and Delaware]. The first federal troops who marched through Baltimore on their way to Washington were attacked by rioters who supported Confederate independence. Lincoln reacted by taking bold steps including empowering military commanders to arrest and imprison civilians who were advocating the Rebel cause and suspending habeas corpus [the right to have a judge determine whether an arrest and detention is lawful]. The press was not exempt. (3)

It takes hard work by many people working together to make changes in our society, whether it be by election, protest or riots. It also takes people individually and together in groups to Defuse or not Feed Into the narrative

“A New York lawyer went duck hunting in the mountains of East Tennessee recently. He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of the fence. As the lawyer climbed over the fence, an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.

“I shot this duck, and it fell in this field, and now I’m going in to retrieve it.”

“This is my property,” the old farmer replied. “And you are not coming over here.”

“I’m one of the best trial lawyers in New York,” said the lawyer. “And if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you and take everything you own.”

“Apparently, you don’t know how we do things in these parts of Tennessee,” said the farmer. “We settle disagreements like this with the Tennessee three-kick rule.”

“And just what is the Tennessee three-kick rule?”

“Well, first I kick you three times, and then you kick me three times, and so on, back and forth, until someone gives up.”

The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old-timer. He agreed to the local custom. The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up to the city slicker. His first kick planted the steel toe of his heavy work boot in the lawyer’s shin. The man fell to his knees. His second kick nearly put a hole in the man’s stomach. The old man then quickly delivered the third kick to the side of the attorney’s head. Slowly, the disoriented lawyer managed to get to his feet.

“OK, you old codger,” he said, “Now it’s my turn.”

The farmer smiled and said “Naw, I give up. You can have the duck” 

I certainly don’t condone violence to settle a dispute, but the above example shows how the farmer chose to end the conflict by giving up and walking away.” (4)

For years we have drifted apart from knowing our neighbors.  At one we knew our neighbors and their families, today many would not know them if they passed by their neighbor in the store.

The damage already done to our communities is not just what you see by driving by the burnt out buildings, boarded up stores, and empty lots where food stores and jobs once stood. 

We may not know for years how many heart attacks, still births, psychotic breaks, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, depressed people and suicides could have ether been prevented or help given had the riots not taken place.   

We must rebuild our neighborhoods and knit them more strongly together than they have been. The community will need to work hard together to repair the damage done. We will have to become Community Strong (5)

Delaware County Poll Workers Fill in Ballots








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