Being human – I believe I am created to engage others. Be present in the lives of others. To face “the other,” “otherness” – that which is different. Community with those to whom I am naturally drawn, and community with the marginalized. I’ve been told that for my generation, the price is going to be too high to have community in either case. We love to talk about these concepts but we won’t make the necessary sacrifices.
What does it mean to be in community, to share all things in common? I posted my painting of “gastown” that I did a few years ago. When I knew about the marginalized: I’d even given them muffins that I forgot to put sugar in. But as you can see they’re invisible in my scene. Even though I’m closely linked with them (one link away), I’ve still managed to keep them at arms length. My good friend runs a non-profit – the goal of which is to engage these people. Not be good “to” them but to receive from them and live life with them and fight for justice in the greater system. I am stalled from spending more (any) time down there by the fact that I can’t even make time for community with people I am drawn to. I know they can get 7 meals a day if they work the system right with the 84 other non-profits that are in a 7 block radius. So I know I won’t be taking them any more muffins or money for food. So how do people with “no time” to spare engage?
I don’t like the busy-ness of this society because engaging people has become a luxury, or an impossibility. My wonderful union has secured me one day per year that I can have a paid day off of work to “volunteer” somewhere. I think of helping my friend downtown. But I know they don’t need that kind of volunteer. They need people who are ready to pay the price and take __ their groceries every Friday and play crib, or drive somebody to the hospital to get detoxed, etc.
So for now, it will be an experiment to try to engage our friends N. & D., to share meals every week and contribute to each others needs. It’s a starting place. Maybe I’ll have a different painting to post in a few years.