Thursday, August 07, 2008


Last night Rhiannon and I went for a before-bed-swim after that 36 degree day. Then we went for a dilly bar at DQ. And so we were driving around and I turned on the radio to listen to Ideas. It may have been a rerun but it was about homelessness. While we were listening, they played excerpts from a conference on homelessness in Calgary earlier in the year. In particular, there was a particularly articulate and knowledgeable woman, Susan Scott, a journalist and author of two books who read aloud a letter she had written to a friend she called Clarissa. Susan Scott carefully explained the legislation and attitudes that have brought about our current problems with homelessness. It was heartrending to listen to. For me, it was all to real. For 5 years I worked with many people in this area who were sometimes couch surfing and usually one step away from being homeless. And listening to their stories, and learning about them as individuals, I realized that really, "but for the grace of God go I". What separated me from them was mostly circumstances and support. Often they had absolutely no supports in their lives. In that case, one little thing goes wrong and it can be a real domino effect.

Tears came to my eyes listening to this reality and thinking about these people whom I had come to care very deeply about who put a face on poverty for me. Tears came to my eyes as I contemplated our society and our country from this perspective. My heart was wrenched and my efforts seemed puny. I wished that in one broad stroke I could change all of that, set it right in an instant so that all this suffering could end.

And so my commitment and passion for what I strive to create with others at the Inner World School is renewed. I truly believe that by healing ourselves and then our families and communities is the only real way to heal the world. I believe that by children growing up with self confidence and understanding and compassion for themselves will we have the leaders for tomorrow that our world needs.

It is so convenient to look at China (the media's current favourite) or Afghanistan or Kosovo or wherever and point our judging finger and organize protests and march and boycott and speak out. There is nothing wrong with those efforts. It only seems to me that we get all passionate about issues that we don't understand all the complexities of and that exist in another society, in another culture half a world away where we can have so very little effect. What about right here? What about in our own communities where we can really do something? Where the effort required is more than an afternoon spent at a protest but where we can have a huge impact? What about in our own lives? Our own choices? What about our own politics? I think we are lulled into thinking about other places and find it so easy to judge instead of asking these hard questions and actually DOING something. It is easier to sign an online petition and think, "well, that's all I can do..." and feel somehow satisfied and as though we have done something than to really look at the heart wrenching problems and wrestle with the complexities and think and discuss and change. That takes real, deep effort and passion.

In the silence in the van after Ideas is over and I turn off the radio, my almost 8 year old daughter in the back seat says to me, "Mom, why is there money?" and I explain bartering and how we came to use money. And she says, "But why do we even have to barter and trade? Why don't we just share what we have? Why doesn't everyone share?" And answering her as honestly as I could, I talked a little about greed and the widespread fear that there will not be enough that leads to hoarding and I talked about trust. Mostly I think it is because we do not trust each other to genuinely care about one another that if we share, we will be left with not enough for ourselves. We don't trust that we are loved. And I don't think that is because others do not love us well enough. I think it is because we don't love ourselves enough. From there it all follows. When we learn to love ourselves as the mighty and powerful, graceful and compassionate, amazing people that we are, our love will flow.

That old commandment, "love thy neighbour as thyself" which is really two commands and the one naturally flows from the other.

So, I challenge you to think about your own community and your place in it. I challenge you to listen to the broadcast that I did last night that can be found here or

And listen, really listen what is said. If you don't have most of an hour to listen, listen just to Susan Scott's part. It starts at 15 minutes, 13 seconds and goes for about 10 minutes. Just listen.


Mary-Sue said...

I think this is the most powerful post you've ever written. I want it published in every newspaper across our country. I LOVEd this! Thank you for putting your passion into words.

Samantha said...

Wonderful post Andrea. An absolutely amazing post. Thank you.

I hope you don't mind if I link it from our blog. I want as many people as possible to read it.

Andrea said...

thank you both!