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Senior Momentum - November 2015 - Seeing Beyond Our Own Moment...


Seeing Beyond Our Own Moment...

by Zoe Tummillo

Seeing Beyond Our Own Moment...

... isn’t always easy.  Sometimes we don’t even realize how self-absorbed we can get – how focused on trivia and the patterns we follow with hardly a thought.   Often, it takes a disaster that comes way too close to home to shake us out of that self-imposed insulation: it can’t happen to me; it happens to other people.  We may not say it out loud, but isn’t that the unspoken fantasy?

Most of us can remember our very first close call while driving; not the lightweight ones, the one that made you pull off the road with your heart pounding like a jack hammer, scared out of your mind... maybe you even threw up.  Suddenly, the reality of almost colliding with another object also hurtling forward at 75MPH came home, sunk in and got our attention.

Sudden disasters get everyone’s attention, immediately.  Flood, hurricane, fire, a terrorist bomb all seem to magically bring forth millions of dollars and millions of people hours to the rescue. It is amazing and wonderful to see, and I am humbled to see the depth of our resources of empathy, sympathy, love, care, shelter, basic necessities ... and dollars.

Yet, I am always also deeply troubled each time that awful cycle happens again – not saddened just by it, but by what it also illuminates:  the individual disasters, like ghosts among us, that seem so easy to ignore.

My own resources are limited, and that includes my energy and stamina.  I can no longer jump into the foray and pull my weight in an emergency as I once did.  Time alters our circumstances as well as our capacity to do the hard work when disaster hits.  So, like many of you, I must choose my battles carefully, use my energy prudently and target my few dollars frugally.   Where should I send my modest contribution – and will it matter at all?

That said, here is a question that plagues me, puzzles me, saddens me and can make me really angry.   Why is there no end to the magnificent reservoir of wealth we find (every time) for natural disasters, when we all but completely turn our backs on the individual disasters we create by our own hands:  our wounded warriors.  

It is quite amazing to consider the millions that are sunk into lavish retirement communities, state of the art recreational facilities, the Olympics when we host them, Casinos... I could go on.   Yet our Veterans’ hospitals and other Veterans’ facilities are typically mediocre and wanting.   

Obtaining the promised entitlements, services and care is a shameful and frustrating process to manage – even if one is fortunate enough to still have all one’s limbs, wits and will.  We turn our backs on veterans living homeless, looking down our noses if they are consumed by alcohol or drugs, or driven out of their minds by haunting memories of things from which we were carefully insulated.  (As if compassion stops when the victims don’t meet our personal standards.)  Isn’t each and every one of them a qualified, individual disaster deserving of at least what we manage to muster to repair buildings, dikes or forests?

Few among us in our simplistic ordinary walks of life and expectations, would tolerate six month, one year, three year waits for medical or psychiatric care?  Just observe any waiting room where there are sure to be pampered civilian patients fuming and belligerent if they have to wait just minutes longer than they believe anyone should keep them waiting!

How can such a vast injustice thrive?   How can one crazed old bat like me make any kind of an impression on a complacent Congress, or a nation of communities unwilling to thoroughly embrace and care for the results of the arrogance of war?   Who are we anyway?   

Here come the holidays when hearts and minds are filled with charity, kindness, gifting and all kinds of goodwill.   The wishes flow, the money flows and most of us have a lot of fun!   (And, here comes 2016 and the opportunity to vote that Congress.)

There are some things very, very wrong with the picture. 


Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: