July 23, 2008

reflections from rain

it is the time of year when the rain can fall heavily at times, when life in general seems to slow down a little.

this is my favorite time of year in any land, when the rain or snow comes and the smell and taste of coffee seems even more delicious; when i feel energized by the cool air; when i can walk briskly without perspiring or be outside without the oppressive sunshine making me hide behind sunglasses all the time; and when i can snuggle under a warm and cozy blanket with the children and feel completely relaxed, without that sense that we should be anywhere else or doing anything else.

yet i cannot feel this way for more than a moment anymore -- now i am thinking about the 100,000's of our brothers and sisters in the region not enjoying this time of year at all. their lives are mostly in the townships. so many homes in these areas are inadequate for keeping a family warm and dry; the electricity is very expensive to keep a space heater on often enough, while the concrete, wood, and tin which are so abundantly used to put homes together are just not sustainable for one's well-being. none of us who can choose a home of our own choice would choose the kinds of homes that have been made available for people in this country -- but what's worse is how so many more people are now living in homemade shacks while struggling to survive (being paid little for the hard labor and work most of them do) because there is no work in the countryside. there are 100,000's of people living in shacks, side by side, wet and cold by the rain, many in flood zones now scrambling for survival make-shifting another shack nearby. there is no dignity to use a toilet in one's own home in these living conditions -- people walk to an area where portable toilets stand next to each other, often against the highway, with broken doors and surely an awful stench. in these same areas, tuberculosis and other illnesses run rampant. there's certainly no extra money to go purchase some medicine, let alone go to a doctor. the community hospital nearby has a waiting list that is all day long and at the end of the day you still are not likely to be seen.

in addition to the shantytowns there are 1000's of displaced refugees who are now living in even worse conditions (!), without their own home, without any sense of security or social welfare. they are displaced both within this foreign land and from their own homeland where they feared for their lives. when the xenophobic attacks began, they left their homes in the townships where the violence was exploding. many of them rented very small spaces from the local people, but they at least had a sense of stability. now almost all of them will not return to the townships because they fear for their lives, and the city does not have enough places of refuge for them to live...so they are basically homeless, living in appalling conditions while receiving some aid from individuals who bring food and blankets to them.

this is reality. it's not my own reality but it's in my heart and my mind all the time, and i cannot disconnect myself from it. i cannot sit under a warm and cozy blanket with my children and forget that my brothers and sisters a couple of miles away are in misery, are in danger, are hungry, are sick, and are without any sense of peace. i must arise each day and strive toward a sense of charity, generosity, consideration, respect, kindliness, and sacrifice in order to feel content that i am helping the world move toward its ultimate destiny of world peace. there cannot be peace until the forces of justice and unity are firmly established in all these lands where the extremes of wealth and poverty exist... and it is abundantly clear that it won't occur until the majority of people truly see each human being as a member of their family, with the eye of our oneness, through the eye of our Creator, Who loves us all as one people, no one better or worse, just beautifully one.

1 comment:

  1. When I first began reading about the shantys and lack of heat, it reminded me of the living conditions of so many Native Americans here in America. From what I've read, the lives of the displaced in S Africa are much worse. I agree with every word with which you ended your blog...