In this grim economy, I cling to glimmers of generosity and optimism like a life raft. This week, two examples of confident children being themselves gave me hope. At church last Sunday, when a three-year old bumped her head, a fifth-grader jumped up, picked up the crying girl and comforted her. It looked as though she didn’t think about doing this. So natural was she that comforting the child was not something that she “does”, it is an expression of who she is.
I asked an eight-year-old on the bus about the ice skates she was carrying. She explained that she skates and sings, although she’s “never had a singing lesson in her life”. When I complimented her mother on raising a confident child, I learned that her daughter wants to be an American Idol.
Although there is plenty to be discouraged about – the Supreme Court’s decision to grant corporations unrestricted campaign campaign contributions, the suffering in Haiti, feeling the grip of fear in the collapsing economy – there is reason to hope. Seeing the outpouring of care, concern and cash for Haitians, seeing children spring into action to do the right thing, seeing another aspire to a musical career, I have a different perspective.
We have big issues to contend with and need to “get” that it is up to us to support each other neighborhood-by-neighborhood. The paradigm has shifted. Washington and Wall Street having abdicated moral leadership and fiduciary responsibility, are clueless and tone deaf to the plight of the 91.6 million Americans falling below the poverty line and many more on a slippery slope to losing their home. Neighborhood organizations know what needs to be done. They clamor for community involvement and are committed to green technology. Paul Hawken wrote in Blessed Unrest:
From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise the largest movement on earth, a movement that has no name, leader, or location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture. and is emerging to be an extraordinary and creative expression of people’s needs worldwide.
Social services have not escaped the budget cuts so thousands of social workers are unemployed, though we need them more than ever. Although I agree that people need to get paid, the way that people work and get compensated is going to radically shift. I suggest that the helping professions, social workers and others, work with their neighborhood groups to figure out creative ways to deliver their valuable services in this shredded economy.
For more info: New Community Vision is working to provide a platform to inform and educate the public about housing alternatives that are affordable, sustainable and engender a community experience that includes healthy inter-dependence and support. Housing alternatives that meet these criteria include cooperatives, cohousing and shared housing. Please subscribe to this blog and contact us for more information.
Photo credit: happy family