Fish sticks

Column by Dorothy Rosby

What is going on? Every time I turn on the news there’s another disaster—a hurricane, an earthquake, a senate vote. There’s only one thing to do: Stop turning on the news.
I’m joking! As citizens, it behooves us to stay informed. It’s the responsible thing to do. Besides, if we bury our heads in the sand, we leave our backsides vulnerable.
When there’s chaos all around, I feel it’s my duty as a professional columnist to be the voice of reason. So let me take this opportunity to utter a few well-chosen words of wisdom: Help! Somebody, do something!
Kidding again! Because of course, I am somebody and so are you. So as usual, it’s up to us. Somehow we must muddle through together. And naturally, that brings me to the subject of fish sticks.
I’m no biblical scholar, which will become obvious very quickly, but I’ve always liked the story of the feeding of the 5000. Maybe you’re familiar with it. The disciples asked Jesus to send the crowds following him to the villages so they could buy food. That’s exactly how I react when I have company. “Let’s eat out!”
But Jesus told the disciples to feed the crowds themselves. Unfortunately, they were only able to scare up five loaves of bread and a couple of fish, and they couldn’t just order pizza—not for that many people. As the story goes, Jesus broke the bread and the disciples passed it out. Not only did they feed all those people, they picked up 12 baskets of leftovers. Now that’s what I call wonder bread.
I’ve always seen the loaves and fish as sort of a metaphor for everything we have—our talents, time and resources. With good intentions and a little divine intervention, maybe they can be stretched to feed 5000, metaphorically speaking. Maybe our impact can spread like dandelion seeds in the spring or flu germs in an elementary school.
I don’t have five loaves and two fishes, but I might have a couple of fish sticks and a slice of sour dough. I write. I vote. I give money—and blood, which I have more of.
There are people who teach, lead others, cure illness and invent things. The way I see it, people like that have a whole halibut and a loaf of multi-grain.
If every single person used their gifts fully and only for good, I imagine the world would be just about as perfect as it could be. “Only for good” is the operative phrase though. Financial geniuses who bilk people out of their retirement or computer whizzes who use their abilities to steal identities ought to have their talents revoked and given to someone who would use them more responsibly. Me, for example. Neither of those skills are among my fish sticks and I could really use them.
But I’ve written this column for 21 years. Maybe I’ve encouraged other people to pay attention to where they park, check their texts before they send them and avoid getting carried away with a new paper shredder. Maybe I’ve reminded someone else to remove the original gift tag before they re-gift or kept them from getting on an ancient elevator with a full bladder. I do what I can. I figure if I’ve encouraged even one woman to wait to apply lip gloss until the Novocain wears off, then my life will not have been in vain.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact drosby@rushmore.com.)