Saturday, 4 September 2010

day 25: community

as with the rest of the country, i woke up this morning with the news of the big earthquake in christchurch. i'm extremely thankful that no-one was killed, but as with everyone else, am hoping that people are going to get through the next few very difficult days ok. i was in chch earlier this year, and am thinking of all the lovely women i met and the islamic women's council conference, hoping that they & their families aren't suffering.

the earthquake has made think again about
some of things i've been writing about over the past few weeks, especially around water, sanitation, a safe roof overhead. i really feel for the people who are facing the cold tonight, and wishing we here were able to help. and if this wasn't sad enough, news of a tragic plane crash at fox glacier. condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.

today's topic is an extension of an earlier post i did on
family. i want to take time to be thankful for all my friends and the various connections that form my community, or rather the various communities i interact with.

friendships are extremely precious, though i often don't devote as much time to them as i should. as with family, we often take our friends for granted and don't tell them often enough how much they mean to us. friendship involves caring, support, sharing of joys and sorrows, and often just time together having fun. they develop in the most unlikely places, and between people who can be extremely different.

i'd like to take time to acknowledge those people who have given me their friendship, who have stood by me in difficult times, who have been happy for me when things have gone well, who have defended me and protected me, who gave me shelter, who have invited me over to share food and celebrations, who have provided me with brilliant conversation, who have listened to me as i let off steam, who have given me their time and attention. i'd like to thank each and every one of you for each and every act of friendship.

i'd like to acknowledge the people i meet only through my volunteer activities and who give their time & effort to a common cause. these are people who i've worked with, argued & debated with, sometimes straight-out fought with, but we always work through the issues and remain on good terms because we know that we are working together for a cause that is greater than each of us.

i'd also like to appreciate the connections i've made with people who i have come across in various walks of life, people i don't see often and couldn't call friends as such. some of them i've met only once but that experience has enriched my life. like
this person, whom i only met for a few hours one evening when she visited hamilton, but whose advocacy & strength was an inspiration to me. there are so many others like that, it would be impossible to name them all.

other connections are even more remote. i remember an experience i had at hajj. we had been staying in the tent city of mina, and had gone to mecca for the morning. when we got back to mina, we had to wait an hour or so to complete one of the rites at the stone pillars. it was so extremely crowded, but we managed to find a space to sit down. a short while later, a lebanese family came and sat next to us. i ended up having a conversation with a lovley lebanese woman. i learned a little about her history & her family. she was from southern lebanon, and we talked sporadically for maybe half an hour.

later, we tried to complete the rite, but we couldn't manage it because of the extreme crowding. it was incredibly scary, so our family decided to do the 1 hour walk back to our tent & come back later in the evening. during the day, we heard that over 200 people were trampled to death, and i thought about the lebanese woman, wondering if she was safe. i didn't even get her name so there was no way to find out, but because we had been on the lower level, it was highly likely that she was safe. later that year, israel bombed southern lebanon, causing massive damage and loss of life. again i wondered about her, whether she or her family had been affected, whether or not she was safe. of course i can never know, i can only hope that all is well with her. i don't think i could even recognise her face anymore, and yet that connection remains in my mind, that memory of her and the time we spent together doesn't fade.

some connections i've made are purely electronic. i haven't met most of my blogging buddies at the hand mirror, for example, but i still feel that we form a community. we share quite a reasonable number of things via email, and via our thoughts as posted on the blog. i love belonging to such a wonderful group of women, & am so thankful they invited me to join them.

all these human connections are what makes life worthwhile. it's these connections that build communities, and when communities are strong, it is much more likely that the individuals within those communities will be doing well. the collective is essential to individual wellbeing, and i'm thankful to all the people who take the time to create a collective, a community.

i think today of those who feel disconnected from their communities, for whatever reason. perhaps because the community shuns them, or because they can't to seem to find their place in structures that aren't suited to them. it could be because the community doesn't take care of them and their needs, or because they are exploited. it could be because of social isolation caused by physical or emotional barriers. something simple like not knowing english or the inability to drive.

ok, it's seriously late so i'm not going to look for action points or organisations to support at 1am! perhaps i'll update this bit on another day. in the meantime, for all those who feel disconnected and isolated from their communities, who feel lonely or angry or depressed or all of those things together, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

My e-community is very important to me, and I'm very glad to be part of your e-community.

I've been hearing stories of community from Christchurch. It's very reassuring. All too often I race past my neighbours, caught up in the busy-ness of my day, and I'm sure that people in Christchurch do much the same. But when the need was there, people have all helped each other.