Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop presented by a group in Dunnville. The day was facilitated by Terie Dreussi Smith, one of the co-authors of the book Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities.
The synchronicity is enhanced even further in how it relates so closely to something that I wrote over the holidays. While getting ready for a family dinner, I had an overwhelming urge to write. It went on for 6 pages. The ideas kept flowing and I just kept scribbling. Below is a little glimpse of what’s been on my mind.
When we are in survival mode, we aren’t growing. We are stiff and struggling. Perhaps this provides an opportunity to become stronger, but only if these hard conditions let up. If we are living in survival mode every day, how will we get a footing? How will our roots plant themselves if the ground is always slipping from below?
The ground represents stability. Maybe it’s in the form of relationships, maybe it’s in the form of work, or perhaps it is in the form of consistent subsidies that will ensure basic needs are being met daily. But if we don’t have this solid ground and can’t meet our basic needs, how can we grow, flourish and share?
So that’s one side of things; the painful truth that in Canada, 1 in 7 people are living in poverty.
And when I make reference to poverty, I am making reference to basic needs not being met. Basic needs are a matter of Human Rights and they include (but not limited to): Food, Shelter, Water, Health Care, and Education.
Most of the 4.8 million people who are affected by poverty survive. They struggle yes, but most do survive and keep moving forward. They persevere and do anything and everything possible to climb their way out of poverty to find some solid ground to grow from.
So what’s the other side? Well, perhaps it’s the “poor me”. How is it that so many people who have their basic needs met are still struggling to find solid ground? Is it because when we get out of survival mode, we fall into “keeping up mode”? That way of life when we deal with what is expected of us or what is “entitled to us”. Many people have been brought up to believe that they need to do better than the last generation. Better yes, but materially better? Economically richer? Why is economic status such an important benchmark? Why does that hold so much value? Unfortunately, the truth is that if this financial wealth is achieved, it’s often at the expense of something better like our health or our relationships. Worst case scenario, one person’s wealth is at the expense of others and the planet’s well being.
If we come from a good home we are often put into a box. We are safe yes, we have shelter, food, warmth, hopefully, love, but we are put into a box. Suburbia, cookie cutter homes. So here we are. In the box, sheltered.
Sheltered, takes on a whole different meaning when I say it that way. Yes, we are sheltered from the elements, but we are also sheltered from the other end of town because of its physical appearance. We become part of the divide. Perhaps we also begin to fear.
And what is fear? What does it do to us? It inhibits love, it takes up the room in our mind, body, and soul, not allowing love to grow. If fear prevents love and we fear our neighbours (whether they be from next door, down the street or across town) what happens to the environment where we live? It becomes polluted with bad, fearful energy. It creates dis-ease, darkness, and divisiveness.
It’s unfortunate really because when this happens, we prevent something beautiful from happening. We unknowingly prevent towns and cities from being lifted out of survival mode and growing into nurturing communities.
So where’s solution? Somewhere between city lines in each individual that populates a community. The solution lies with individuals coming together to empower and uplift each other. I may not have all the answers, but now thanks to a group of individuals in the community of Dunnville who care a whole lot, I have been presented with tools and resources to help me through the hard questions.
Wondering where you can start in your community? There are many great initiatives that aim to bring people together to address some of the most pressing concerns such as homelessness. Safe housing is a necessity for citizens to build their lives. In Canada, nationwide initiatives are launching, check out 20,000 Homes to see how you can get involved.
As we begin to build bridges around our cities and towns, people will naturally come together. This means that we might stand a chance at narrowing gaps in a world with growing inequality. Many say that it begins with a solid foundation, I tend to agree.
“A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last. The same principle applies to man, otherwise he too will sink back into the soft ground and becomes swallowed up by the world of illusion.”
Needless to say, there are other sides to this matter, but we’ll leave that for another day…
I’d love to hear what you think about this topic & learn about initiatives in your community. Please feel free to comment below or on Twitter.