Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thought of the day: Community

It's interesting. I've been thinking about community a lot. Thinking about how people work or don't work together. At times, I'm ashamed of how I've let my pride get in the way or else have not said anything in defense of people who needed defending. I will often feel guilty and start to see what I could have done differently and so on. And I know the best lesson is to learn from that experience and grow.

I read about a situation in Afghanistan where something called a sandfly will bite a person and cause them to have a sore that will take over a year to heal. Apparently, the sandfly has always been around but is growing because conditions are horrible in this particular area. The article talked about sanitation and having open landfills and having people who don't have anything (and esp. bug repellant) that are damaged by this fly. The sandfly will transmit a parasite that leaves the body disfigured where it has bitten and usually the face.

It's amazing to me how easy I take sanitation and community health as something that was always there. But it hasn't always been there. In the mid-1930's America suffered a huge blow to it's economic forces and lots of people lost so much. It was called the Great Depression. My grandfather, Melvin, and his family were actually ones that had to give up their farm because there was nothing. They all moved to California and eventually, with the new programs from the government, were able to get work. During this time, grandpa worked in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps. This was a program to employ youths and help the environment. Created by Franklin D. Roosevelt). While working for this program, Melvin was bit by a tick...it burrowed into his hip and he nearly lost his life. He survived, thankfully. I mention this because we have to have programs from our government for stability. If not, we risk having poverty, chaos and the richest ones get the most. Very anti-Robinhood, if you ask me.

This reminds me so much of what's happening to people in Afghanistan. When stressed or lacking in protection (like bug repellant) people get sick and are weakened. In the case with the sandflies, they need money to clean things up and get basic things like repellant/sanitation,etc. I don't think we can cure everyone or solve all the answers just by money or even by medication. But it certainly helps.

I looked up Doctors without Borders and they address this in more detail. I was a little disappointed that the article I read on yahoo didn't give a direct link to this or any other group that is doing something about this epidemic. I hate to feel like something is hopeless and there isn't a place for me to help/send aid. The Doctors without Borders has a direct donate button on the bottom of the page.

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I've also thought about community. When things are extremely unstable there can be a lack of community, a lack of common decency and kindness. There can also be the extreme opposite; people helping people in the most kind and basic way. I hope to see more of this.

In our society, we have a certain amount of taxes to take care of things like road repair and having law enforcement. There are also basic rules we follow like driving and the biggie called the golden rule. This "Do to others what you would have done to you", seems to stretch above all borders and continents. Each society has this one, worded differently here and there but basically, the same. I've seen a lot of good examples of this but I've also seen huge deficits as well. It seems to me, we all need to work on this one...we all need to think about how when we vote, how does this effect our community and the bigger world community? When we have unresolved feelings, how do we work them out and not attack those who have those "weaknesses" we see in ourselves? It's a hard process but it's something that needs to be done otherwise we repeat mistakes and hurt each other. Very anti-golden rule, if you ask me.

On Tuesday (today) our trash will be picked up, we have bought this small service to discard our trash and recyclables. I will wash dishes and clothes with clean water that is piped in from city water. These things are sometimes taken for granite by me...they seem to have always been there. But they haven't. Our grandparents fought for laws to have clean water. We recently have had a huge change in the last 10 years in Altoona called recycling. People didn't do that before this. Change is everywhere because we caused it to happen. It's amazing really...we cause things to happen; good or bad.

I feel it's very sad when basic things like water and trash pick-up are not there in places like Afghanistan or poor areas. Or if they are there, it's only the wealthy who can afford this. This is wrong. And it's wrong for us not to do anything when we have so much. Even if we can't afford to donate huge amounts of money, a little adds up. And what's more, if people just talk about this and share what they've read or heard, more people can help.

When my cousin, Blagi, came from Bulgaria for a visit about 12 years ago, she was overwhelmed. She couldn't believe the choices at the supermarket. We'd stay there for nearly 3 hours as she walked up and down the aisles in shock. I had never even thought about the variety on the shelves more than if my I couldn't find a favorite brand of food or complained about the price.


It's important to apply that old saying of trying on other people's shoes for a bit, see with new eyes, learn from this experience and to help. We really make a difference. I know we can. Otherwise, what else is there? I don't want to get bitten by sandflies and I don't want people in Afghanistan to get bitten either.

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