Commentary: Being thankful and helping others should highlight this season

Commentary: Being thankful and helping others should highlight this season
November 22
00:00 2018

By James B. Ewers Jr.

We are in a special time of year when compassion and compromise ought to be used more. Teddy Pendergrass, the old school singer sang the lyrics, the world has changed so very much from what it used to be. There’s so much hatred, war and poverty. I think he is right.

The times we are living in today are much more perilous. Just getting home each day is a problem for some of us. In this new age, our neighbors aren’t really our neighbors. They are simply people who live next door to us. We don’t have a relationship with them and don’t know them by name. Borrowing a cup of sugar or some flour probably isn’t going to happen. Why? Because they won’t answer the doorbell. However, for some of us, this doesn’t describe our circumstance, so we are blessed.

The social ills we face each day are daunting. For example, homelessness seems to be in our communities, large or small. When I was a boy growing up in Winston-Salem, I never heard my parents or other adults talking about people not having a place to stay. When I was riding around with my dad, I never saw people standing at street corners asking for money. Now that is a common occurrence today. Because my friends and I did a lot of walking as we got older, we never saw people lying around near bridges or huddled up somewhere.

Another ill of major consequence is the way in which we treat our veteran’s population. Back in the day, men and women who served our country were heroes. They were treated with great dignity and respect. My uncle “Pap,” Nathaniel Holland, was a soldier in the U.S. Army. When he returned home, he bought a house with my aunt Odessa and became a bus driver for Safe Bus Company. You must be in a certain age range to remember the Safe Bus Company.

Now our veterans come home and too many of them are treated like second-class citizens.

They can’t find jobs and end up in dire straits. America in my opinion must become more in tune with the needs of our service men and women. Reports say many of our VA [Veterans Administration] hospitals are substandard and that veterans wait months in order to be served. Now realize they served us, but we can’t serve them. It is beyond comprehension how a veteran who served our country can become homeless.

The United States is a great country. I believe we earned that reputation, but we can’t rest on our laurels. Homelessness, lack of support for our veterans and health care need our immediate attention. We need a social fix!

It is my opinion this prescription needs to start at the local level. We can’t wait on Washington. More of us need to get involved in the remedy.

This holiday season is a good place to start. Elected officials, places of worship, social agencies, you and I all have a role to play. These are tough times, but I take comfort in the time-honored expression that “tough times don’t last but tough people do.”  We can fall but we must get back up again. Remember TP when he sang, “wake up everybody no more sleeping in bed. It’s time for thinking ahead.”

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at

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