Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Encouragement.

 You know, a profound thing happened this morning, before I even got out of bed. We have a pretty nice relationship with our tenants. 3 of them have a pretty solid historical connection. They grew up in Kinzua, and were forced out by the government who were building a dam, and where their tiny towns stood would soon be underwater, part of the Kinzua reservoir. It ties in quite really well with Tasker's post today, strangely enough as he too recounted a story of a place which no longer exists. 

So...they are good friends, bound together by their shared history. Through them, we met another couple, who had the same 'Kinzua Connection'. I wrote about them. The gentle man made a huge impression on me in that short meeting. 

It's no secret that I've been struggling. I mean, the news of the world is really just overwhelmingly awful lately. Today I read that Israel is blocking the delivery of sleeping bags to Gaza. That's indefensible. It is simple cruelty. Unfortunately, 12,300 children have been killed in Gaza in the past four months. More will surely follow, because they are starving to death. Israel's goal is to inflict suffering, and they are doing a fine job of it. Hammerabi's law demanded 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'. Israel's 'revenge' has gone far beyond what can be considered reasonable. 

I will always be ashamed of my president vowing to protect Israel, no matter what. To me, it is so very simple. Say that I've got a friend, and that friend gets mad and kills someone. How shall I respond? If I defend him, cover for him, help to him to avoid justice, this would be called 'aiding and abetting'. It is a crime. You can laugh at the simplicity of that, but in my mind, if it isn't ethical on a personal level, it is no more ethical on a national level, or a world level. Wrong is wrong. 

And then there is Putin. 

And our political chaos. 

I mean, it just never ends. I've given up watching the news altogether. I follow it closely, but somehow the words are easier to take than the actual visuals, so I read my news. It gets to the point where, really, you just feel as if it is futile. There is no point. There is nothing that I can do to make a difference. I mean, I try to be a good person. I do. But I will make no difference in this world. 

Last night, we got an unexpected call from that elderly gentleman from the beginning of this post. He's had a rough go of things in the past couple years. His wife died, and they were each a half of a whole. A tree blew down on his little house in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the winter. We offered him a camper to live in, but he thanked us. He went on living in the livable part of his little house, working industriously to make the unliveable part liveable once again. He's a quiet, independent soul, and sometimes you will catch him smoking a joint staring across the water. I don't begrudge him his small pleasures. I'll tell you true. Sometimes I am tempted to smoke one and see if the world looks any better when I'm done. 

Anyways, his text came out of the blue. He'd come across some foam sheeting and wondered if we would want it. Tim immediately said yes. The house is insulated. but Tim said that we could use it in the garage, to make that weather tight. They made plans to meet up. When we asked how much he wanted for it, he said that he didn't want anything, that it wasn't his. He was doing a job and had to get rid of it. He wanted it to be reused, instead of tossing it in the landfill. 

This morning, I invited him to supper, but it turns out that he eats very plainly, very simply. He's also a vegetarian. I said, "Well, can we do some sort of a barter? You're doing a kindness for us." He responded that perhaps we could do a barter at some point, but he could not think of anything at the moment. 

In a joking way, I responded, "Sigh! I can tell when I am being put off, sir!" 

He said, "Well. I'm afraid you're reading this wrong. Just an offer to a fellow traveler. I am sure things will even themselves out at some point." 

Afraid that I'd hurt his feelings, I said, "I know that you are right, and I hope that you remember us when the time comes that you need help. But whatever happens, know that this will be paid forward. In this world today, we have a responsibility to be kind, to pour as much good into this world as we can. It is our only hope." 

And then came his beautiful reply. "My friends on Water St. have shown me just how well you both understand the need to spread kindness and goodness to others. It is actions like yours that give me hope that we CAN create the kind of world that we long for." He closed his text with "Enjoy this day. Namaste." 

I do not relate this for shameless self promotion. I'm not bragging. But here's the gift of his words. We do try to be kind. We do try to do good. It never seems to be enough. It never seems to matter. It never makes a difference. Except...someone noticed, and I feel as if it has somehow eased my internal struggle just a bit. 

I think of Steve Reed's 'Estelle' painting her rocks, leaving them about London. I'm not sure how old she is but it was very moving to me to think of a girl, with a child's pure heart, leaving her rocks for others to find, earnestly believing that she can bring joy into the world. 

Red's story about taking his wife out for her birthday had an unexpected ending.

Weaver's stories about the kindness of others are touching too. 

Yeah. We are living in a very ugly world right now, but there is sweetness. There are Estelles. There are Geezes. There are good people, and just being reminded of that made a big difference for me today. 

Feel free to leave your examples in the comments, some little story of kindness that has made an impact on you. I'd love to hear them. I'm sure the world could use the encouragement. 



56 comments:

  1. Yes, the world can be overwhelming if we allow it. I try to just live as best I can and do no harm. Today was one of those days that remind me of how good the world can be. Nothing great or newsworthy, just a nice day. Started with a quick visit from our neighbor Jeff who is turkey hunting on our place. He offered us his tiller, as ours is acting up. We may borrow it if ours can't get sorted out tomorrow. We fed him breakfast while he was here. Then off to take a dresser to our booth. Another friend gave it to us. We repaired and painted it to sell. Then we went to a sweet little bike trail over the river in Ohio where a friend had told us about a bluebell preserve. Gorgeous little natural area, few bluebells but many other wildflowers. We made stop at tractor
    supply on the way home and met a young woman who sells real cow milk, and have agreed to get a gallon a week. I am so excited about that! It has been years since we had our cows and I miss that good milk. Home to our good dogs and our porch to end the day. Just a nice day, the kind that I wish every person in this world could enjoy.

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    1. It surely doesn't seem to be asking all that much, does it? The chance for everyone to be able to take pleasure in living?

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  2. The differences you make to people are life changing. None of us can change the appalling situation in the middle east, but we can make a difference in our own neighbourhood and you do that.
    I wonder if small communities are more generous and caring? I have noticed a big difference in attitudes since moving from the big city to a small country town. People seem to look out for each other more.

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    1. That may be changing. I live in a part of the world that seems to be very suspicious. Openly hostile in cases. They don't trust the government. They don't trust people who think differently.

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  3. You wrote down my thoughts exactly. I don't like what BiBi's doing in Israel under the guise of defense. It's horrid. I guess the people of Israel think so too since they've protested to kick him out.
    Little bits of kindness certainly takes the rough edges off the garbage going on in the world. Thanks for being, kind, human and both. Linda in Kansas

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    1. It is pretty sickening to hear his government defending their actions, isn't it? The country will reap a bitter harvest in my opinion, and the hatred will last for generations.

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  4. Some people with so much are discontent and some people with so little are at peace with themselves. Especially with what has happened here this week, it has been quite a rough time news wise. It is society's business, not one of individuals and no one person should stop caring but also realise their own limitations in what they can do. Keep up your kindness. You are clearly thought of very well.

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    1. Sometimes it is a great comfort to know what people think of you, as silly as it sounds.

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  5. Our prime minster too is backing Israel, and like you I feel they have gone too far, too many deaths and ongoing measures to make the lives of the Palestine people unbearable. Even if they wipe out Hamas fighters, they are creating so much hate more will join and fight on.
    I help in our community to make local lives better, we pass on loads of good stuff, I don't think we can do much about the wide world, but making our little spot better works for me, and like you I don't shout out what I do, just and help out where we can, and enjoy our community.

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    1. That's all we can do, isn't it? Pass on good things, good words, good feelings. I like that you can give with such a generous heart which allows you to enjoy (and feel a part of) your community.

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  6. A heavy but lovely expression of how you feel and I am sure many of us feel. Like your government ours has cowardly followed a line of wait and see, when morally it should have spoken out against Israel directly for its cruelty.
    I live in a town which has 'kindness' as its motto. It is slowly evolving to manage itself, though I feel the people do not know this;) but kindness is all over the world we have to make sure it is the dominant force.

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    1. It really grieves me to think of the children. We all love our children and our grandchildren, and I cannot see the face of a suffering child without seeing the faces of my own grandchildren.

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  7. First, thank you for the mention. That post is mainly a quotation that particularly moved me, rather than my own words.
    I am coming to realise how cushioned we have been in the western world from all the horrors elsewhere. We believed that wars and famines, terrible as they are, would never affect us again directly. I think that is changing. I am now saying to the kids to stop wasting their money on trivialities and putting off responsibilities until the future and establish themselves so they can weather shortages of housing, employment, and commodities, perhaps even civil unrest. It is a bleak viewpoint, and they think I am talking rubbish, which maybe I am. What matters most is the mutual kindnesses you talk of, and the freedoms of self-expression and creativity. There are many who want to take that from us.

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    1. It was just such a lovely thing to share. I know that I'd never heard of it, but it brought to mind other examples of that. I am quite interested in local history, and so much of that local history exists in the minds of our elders, or in the pages of a book or on a cemetery tombstone. The physical traces of it are gone in a great many cases.

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  8. It is often people who have the least who give the most. I think of a friend of mine, who has little materially but is always ready to take in someone needing shelter. There are plenty of good people in this world - they just get overshadowed by bigger, badder events.

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    1. Like Thoreau, he has chosen to live simply.

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  9. That guy does seem like a gem in his little way. You seem not so bad yourself. 😊

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    1. He is very old I think. He works odd jobs for people, he lives quietly, he eats plainly, he speaks gently, he smiles often. He is a person who simply exudes peace, as strange as it sounds. It is his nature. He is a gem.

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  10. Debby, I went to a college reunion last weekend. There were over 200 people there, and about 45 of us were among the oldest. We were celebrating the 50th anniversary of a performing arts center, so we were mostly all theatre people who had lived, studied, acted, worked and performed together intensely in our youth. Of course there were people there who hadn’t seen each other in years and decades. So many hugs. Endorphins! So much love. So much joy in being together. I’m sure if we had lifted the roof and let that joy out we could have solved world problems. Take that, (insert country/name here)! I came home on Sunday and I’m still still in awe of what happened. I know there are appalling things happening in the world. I soaked up everything I could to both arm myself and share around. Love all around. Bonnie in Minneapolis

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    1. That weekend does sound uplifting. I like the idea that you could immerse yourself in that loveliness like a sponge with the intention to share it all around.

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  11. I see kindnesses every day. Often, they are of the smallest kind-the sort that you have to really be open to see and take in and I do believe that in the seeing and appreciating, we are making the world just a tiny bit better, even though, as you say, it all seems so overwhelmingly futile at times. There IS so much cruelty and I have often said that it seems to me that cruelty is that the only motivation that so many lawmakers have these days. Cruelty in denying women and the LGBTQ community basic human rights, for example. Cruelty in our immigration policies. The list never really ends. And why? I do not understand it.

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    1. It all stems, I think from seeing others as less than human. You know, I am making a propagation station like you have. I am using copper wire and old bottles and vials. It is my 'happy' of the moment!

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  12. Thanks for giving me this reminder that kindness does exist in our world. I think of myself as a networker - just passing along to others what I've learned somewhere else. I have a Facebook site, and our town has a couple of groups where local things get posted. Yesterday at Physical Therapy my trainer said he'd worked on his garden over the weekend. I immediately remembered a Facebook post saying that just up the road was a site offering free mulched horse manure...and told him about it. He's planning to take some buckets up and fill them next weekend. I feel just a channel of information that may help others...rather than getting in and doing something physical for them. But it's just how life is lived by most people I know.

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    1. You are right, of course. But too often, we fall into the trap of feeling that we are not making a difference in the world. We see things from the big ugly picture and we see ourselves as insignificant, our contributions as nothing. Behaving kindly doesn't mean that others will treat you kindly. The city will still screw you over if they get the chance. Or a blogger that you never met will trumpet to the world that you are "evil". Your kids will find you irrelevant. You plod along and it feels kind of lonely...and then suddenly someone does point out that your kindness has benefit...suddenly your path doesn't seem so futile. You're not tilting at windmills. You are making a difference to others. It just makes things seem better. You set out with intention once again, and you don't feel nearly as worthless. That's more what I meant to say. But I am convinced it is never wrong to be kind, whether it is your words or your actions.

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  13. Yes, I see a lot of kindness everywhere - we just hear about the awful so much that we are distracted from the goodness but it is there.
    I don't think that Biden is protecting Israel no matter what. I think that there is much negotiating going on all of the time to bring a ceasefire and peaceful solution to this region. So many countries are involved in the conflicts there. I don't understand it all but Iran and its allies are complicating this and it's a tricky balancing act to prevent future escalation.

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    1. It is a charitable viewpoint, and I respect you for it. I cannot see it that way at the moment, but perhaps I can sort it out and see it differently as time goes on. Right now, I am disappointed. Wrong is wrong. Attacking civilians is wrong. Blocking food and supplies to aid those civilians is unconscionable, and we should be saying that loudly and clearly.

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    2. Have you read Heather Cox Richardson? She is a "political historian who uses facts and history to put the news in context". I get her newsletter each day in my email and she spoke about this topic yesterday.. Here's a link to her Facebook page if you want to check her out. :)
      https://www.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson

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    3. You know Ellen. I used to receive her daily emails. She is very very good. I am not sure how I got out of this habit. Thank for this. It gave me a great deal to think about. I am saving this because there is a lot there to digest and it will require a few more re readings and some outside referencing but it does help me understand.

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  14. You made me cry with this post and thank you for the reminder that there is still kindness and goodness in the world, something so easy to forget right now. I give my neighbor hugs when I see her, she's an older woman who lives with her son and she struggles to let people in, she lets me see her pain though and I am thankful I can do that for her. I can't fix it but I can be a witness.

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    1. We all can be witnesses. Thank you for that.

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  15. Not all sleeping bags are being blocked, only one load of "military green" sleeping bags were blocked so that innocent Gazans wouldn't be mistaken for militants and bombed/shot in them.

    Once many years ago, I learned that my mom would tip a waiter/waitress $100 for a meal usually around Christmas time as a way of giving back. After mom died, I took up that cause and now do the same. It never fails to cheer me up seeing the light go on in a waiter/waitress's eyes when they realize that they had been given a $100 bill along with full payment for my tab.

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    1. https://news.yahoo.com/green-sleeping-bags-not-allowed-132208071.html#:~:text=Israeli%20officials%20are%20stopping%20green,border%20had%20been%20recently%20rejected.

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    2. Israel is blocking humanitarian supplies. There are no set rules. They are turning humanitarian supplies away, coming up with excuses why they are not allowing these things into Gaza.

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    3. Well the article you linked essentially said the same thing as what I said, only military green sleeping bags.

      I am by no means trying to apologize for Israel's actions. Just pointing out that there are other reasons besides just trying to be mean/cruel to the people of Gaza. I'm not Jewish nor sit on decision making groups in Israel so I don't know what their true intentions are when these sorts of decisions are made.

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    4. You said one truck had been turned back. This is not true Ed. The article details other humanitarian supplies are rejected. There are no rules. The decision to reject is arbitrary, and changeable. The NY Times has an article that talks about fact that if one item is rejected, the whole truck is sent back to be repacked... And that the truck can be rejected on the next trip through. Is there a more efficient way to do this? I think so.

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    5. I only mentioned one truck WITH banned green sleeping bags. I made no mention of any of the other vehicles in the convoy that were turned away for other reasons. I'm sure many were turned away.

      I do think publishing a list of what is banned and what isn't would certainly be more efficient but I also understand why one isn't published. It would essentially be a manual of what the enemy has to use to attempt to smuggle in things. War is never fair to all sides. I personally don't feel as if our country should be involved in any way in this war (other than providing humanitarian aide to both sides) even though I feel sympathy for the victims on both sides. I do understand individuals people picking a side based off where their interests lay.

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  16. At the moment there are 700 trucks with humanitarian equipment waiting inside Gaza that have moved from Israel, the UN that is supposed to take care of it is delayed for some reason. It is true that there is a right-wing minority that tries to prevent the equipment from entering Gaza because of the abductees who are still being raped and murdered there by the people of Gaza
    Not every news you read in the media is really true.
    On Saturday night, 300 cruise missiles and hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles with tons of explosives passed right over my head here. If your president and others had not cooperated with us, I would not be here to write, neither I nor my grandchildren, who since they were born have known the voices of The explosion of the rockets from Gaza..
    I still wonder why I don't read a single word about the fate of the kidnapped children and the raped women in Gaza?Raped by their captors. Wars are a terrible thing and terrible things happen, but to regularly ignore the terrible moves that preceded all of this, the massacre that happened here, is in my opinion very unfair. The countries that are on our side now are not doing it out of love but out of the understanding that we are only the first in line, the idea of Islam taking over the world threatens everyone. Unfortunately there is no humane way to win wars, they are impossible and could have been prevented. A one-sided position as I see here does not promote anything, it only ignores the suffering of one side and extremes positions.

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  17. Sometimes, Yael, a side needs to be taken. You have taken a side, and I can understand why. As you say, adopting a one sided position allows you to ignore the suffering in Gaza.

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    1. I don't ignore the pain of the people in Gaza, I wrote about it several times, I didn't take sides, this is my life, I didn't choose it, it's happening to me here, it's my life that's in danger here and it's not about the sides I choose or not. It pains me to see how many false facts are published in the media and people believe it, but apparently I really should ignore it.

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    2. We will have to simply agree that we are two adult women who view this very differently.

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  18. It is just what Pirate said in his last hours. People need to be kind and to care, not to argue or fight.

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    1. Please know how sorry I am about Pirate. Please be kind to yourself.

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  19. While there is no doubt what Hamas did back in October was horrific, there is NO justification for the actions of the Israeli military against the civilian population of Gaza. Attacking hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and civilian housing under the "justification" of destroying Hamas is a war crime. The Palestinians are not Hamas and they are being slaughtered. One would think that Israel would not behave in this fashion given the fact that their ancestors were the survivors of one of the most terrible acts of genocide in history. But here we are.

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  20. I’m like you- I don’t feel that I can make a difference nationally, but. Can always be kind to my neighbors.. and it feels good! I’m not a US citizen yet, and may never be.. but I’ve always seen kindness as my religion ❤️
    Xo, Rigmor

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    1. Hearing that your efforts have made a difference to others is an encouraging thing. It just sort of feeds on itself, doesn't it.

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  21. I will no longer comment on your blog, Debbie, as I have not done until now, even if you write the harshest and most untrue things against us. A few days ago I suggested that we talk beyond our opinions, on a personal level, because I did see that it was possible to bridge something, you didn't want to and now I understand why. You have a lot of compassion for cats and people, but your compassion is selective, whoever doesn't forgive Biden for helping us, would actually like to see us die here, this selective compassion has a name you won't like.

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  22. Sorry for the name mistake, it's Debby of course.

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  23. Debby, you DO do a lot of good.. Your blog and the kindnesses you write of are often the brightest ray of sunshine in my often difficult days…

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  24. Your post encouraged me and I am so grateful that we crossed paths in the bloggosphere. Debby, you have said so many wonderful things to me in my comments section especially about my family and they mean the world to me and I appreciate it very much. A recent act of kindness for me was a girl that I am coaching on Hayden's softball was ready to give up and not finish the game. She was crying on the mound and thought she was a failure. I went out and talked to her, encouraged her and she battled through it to finish the game. She had the best smile on her face afterwards and I was so proud of her for persevering and believing in herself.

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  25. And your encouragement allowed her to see herself differently. That's actually the gist of my post.

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  26. I feel exactly as you do, Debby. I've been so upset with our government not taking a stronger stand to curb what Israel is doing. And we're sending more financial aid to Israel!?! I've written to the President, our senators and representatives letting them know our feelings. It's madness.
    And then there's Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene who seem to be supporting Putin. What the heck? And why are there so many people who don't see what Trump really is?

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  27. Thanks for the shout-out to me and Estella! I've picked up four of her rocks so far and they're in one of our planters. Actually, I've found out that another girl, Freya, is responsible for some of them.

    I have always been a news reader as opposed to a news watcher. I find I get a lot more depth and less superficial emotion when I read the news.

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