Friday, July 25, 2008

Have I Told You Lately... Part II

So I've been reflecting on my post from the other day, and the myriad responses I received, both via your online comments, and -shockingly enough- face-to-face conversations. I've mulled and come to a few conclusions.

First, I'm completely amazed at the variety of responses and opinions I've heard/read. It's made me see, once again, how differently people will interpret a text based on their own background and experiences. With some responses, I've had to re-read my post, searching for the trigger, for the correlation between response and post. Mysterious indeed.

And now for a few other thoughts...

Oh, man, where do I begin?

Okay.

First off, I think the thing that really gets me is the "us" and "them" dichotomy. I find this in a lot of church ministries and "helping" organizations, and I don't agree with it, even as I see myself struggling with it. You could also call it the "project" mentality. (Thanks, Jeff!) To explain, it's the thinking behind the helping that goes something like this: I am helping you; therefore, I have all the answers. You're broken; I need to fix you. I've got it together, so I don't need your help. There is nothing you can do for me, thank you very much. It's very uni-directional thinking. We don't feel we can learn anything from the people we're helping. At the same time, we're trying to make them into a mini-me. So we're uncomfortable when they show up to church drunk, or smelling bad. And we get frustrated and feel our help is worthless when we don't see them "change." Do you know what I mean?

What I do believe in is a place like Women 4 Women, where I'm just as likely to snag some free clothes and benefit from a free lunch as the next person. And where it's not always clear who's doing the "giving" and who's doing the "taking." Where we each get to feel a sense of ownership for the thing that we're a part of.

I guess you could say I want life to just be a big "US" talking to and learning from each other, trying to figure out this complicated world together.

I had a hard time composing that part. I hope you get what I was trying to say...

***

As for the issue of what schools our kids attend...
Rose, you brought up some good points. And admittedly, my idealism falls short. I'm fine with sending Kaiya to our local school. But would I want to send her to the school where Jeff works? Absolutely not.

It seems we have a dilemma.

I guess when I hear some parents talk, I wonder about the fine line between "giving our kids the best we can give" and simply sheltering them. And I don't agree with sheltering them. That's where my line about teaching our kids street smarts came in. A line I, unfortunately, simply threw in without thinking much about it. What I really meant to say is that I think we should be trying our best to be open, honest, and humble with our kids. Teach them to ask lots of questions and be open-minded. And don't be afraid to simply say, "I don't know" when we actually don't know.

***

Since I wrote the post, the line that keeps popping into my head, and I apologize, it is slightly lame... is "bloom where you're planted." What I mean is, if you live on George Street, get to know the people who walk, bike, and stumble by. Connect and build your community. And the same goes for if you live in a subdivision. Meet your neighbours. Connect. Offer help. Have a barbecue. And the same if you volunteer somewhere. Don't just be a body. Connect with the people you're helping. Learn their names. Learn their stories. Let their lives affect you and change you.

Yes. Bloom where you're planted.

Oh, and I'm still frustrated by the tendency people have to want to book it to suburbia/the country once they have a bit of cash. Of course I don't think we should all live downtown. Talk about overcrowding! But why don't more people choose downtown? Why is it seen as a bad place to raise a family? Because it's busy? Because I have to take my kids to a park instead of the acre out back? Because there are "colourful" people hanging around? I'm going to keep asking it. What are we afraid of?

There you have it. My smorgasbord of thoughts. Hopefully I made some sense. It is, after all, Friday night, and I'm trying to think semi-clearly after a day of painting baseboards following a night that involved waking up 5 times to soothe my poor, teething daughter. I think a strong drink is in order.

So what are your thoughts? Go on folks, hit me. This time I'm ready for you. Even you, James.

;)

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