How about a little “activism” today?!
A visit to Grace’s website today had me thinking about the human condition – that socially imposed prison that often segregates and pushes people aside for the sake of progress and development (because compassion and empathy require ingenuity and money – and [sarcastic tone] who has time or funds for that?). The “victims” are often regular folk like you and I. They may have fallen upon hard times (lost their jobs, missed a few mortgage payments), made poor decisions (gambling, alcohol or drug addictions) or found themselves living on the streets for a variety of other reasons. These people are children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers….people that have loved and been loved. An open heart and mind are all that is needed to see these people for what they really are – Divine beings like you and I.
More importantly, I think society has become rather retro-active in dealing with homelessness and societal problems. As individuals, some of us shrug our shoulders as we walk along, permeated with the fear and confusion that was instilled in us as children, while dark, glazed eyes stare up at us from the sidewalk. If we do stop to share and help by giving money to some individuals – we question the helpfulness of such acts. As a society, we continue to elect governments that place global wars and economy over the stability and health of our own nations (ie. Third world conditions in developed nations). Many of us do care about the situation of homelessness, and many of us understand that the poor souls on the streets are “end-products” of a system that is need of support (shelters, crisis centres, rehabilitation centres, affordable housing).
If we want to be proactive members within our community, we can certainly “act” to make our own cities better places in which to live. Simple things. Things that might help to support and empower community. We can make a difference:
1. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity – Even if you have only a day or two a month to spare – this can make all the difference for some job-sites. You do not need to be an expert painter, plumber or carpenter to help – the jobsite manager will supervise the tasks (so that they are performed according to “code”) and give you jobs that you are comfortable with. Often, you can meet the people that you are helping to build the house for. You can feel good knowing that you will be giving this family a safe, comfortable home. Low cost housing is an oxymoron in itself (but some of the land and materials required for the projects are actually donated!) – and in my part of the world, there are more executive homes and fancy condominiums going into neighbourhoods than anything else.
2. Donate Time, Money, Food to Your Local Shelter – Simple and self explanatory. Many grocery stores also make it easy to do this with pre-packaged “care packages” that can be purchased and placed in donation bins. Non-perishable items of course.
3. Spend Time Educating Children – Children need the support of adults in a community if they are to become useful members of society. Don’t underestimate the power of shining some light in a child’s life.
4. Shop Locally – Keep your local economy growing (this employs local people and producers). Buy foods from farmer’s markets when you can – keep the local farmers in business because they care about the community. Many farms are going organic now too (costs of producing organic food are coming down and the benefits of organic produce are obvious).
Little things. These acts won’t necessarily help the people that already find themselves without a home, but building stronger communities WILL help. People will be more apt to care and stand up for their families, children, friends and neighbours when they are in need. We are not powerless and we have the positive energy to make a difference. Let’s recognise the Divine in ourselves and each other!