This is a phrase we are hearing a lot about these days in reference to our country’s debt discussions. But “on the edge” has meanings at the individual, family and community level as well.

Historically, I remember learning the world view that the world was considered flat, and if you got too close to the ‘edge’ you would not survive, you might even go ‘over’ the edge. Today you can find this phrase used in photography, songs, business names, marketing messages of all kinds.  It usually includes a reference of some kind to a precipice, or deep cliff or physical edge as a barrier.

This phrase conveys danger and the unknown and also great opportunity and excitement. Throughout history, adventurers have pushed every conceivable boundary to explore as far as we can go. But there are plenty of others who are much more comfortable away from any ‘edge’.

What I have learned over the years working with communities described as on the edge, and with people, is that there are so many opportunities created from our most challenging experiences. Some we can handle without help, others take a coming together of many people to help out.  After experiencing disasters, it is heartening to realize the many acts of random kindness from so many other people go a long way to hasten a healing process. Other disasters are so huge, they cannot easily be solved with a quick or short effort.

I am reminded as well from the many nonprofit organizations that we work with, that they often are the front lines providing help to others in their communities and just how important those efforts are.  A random act of kindness to help another person, in this time of excessive heat, tension in our lives, need for food, or just for comfort is really good for the soul and benefits both the donor and receiver in different ways. A recent visitor to my Rotary Club spoke about the importance of a smile to someone else as a great place to begin.

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