Ken and I walked down to have some Chinese tonight because it has been a long couple of days and I needed a break. I know, bad mama. We've had some uncharacteristic-for-Ohio-warm-weather, and by uncharacteristic, I mean nearly 60 today. Gorgeous. I had gotten up early, finished stuff for my class and sent it off to students, had a celebratory breakfast coffee, delivered supplies to the classroom for another teacher, volunteered four hours at our local NPR station WKSU 89.7, had an eye appointment and did some grocery shopping. All with boy in tow (well, except volunteering, but he'll be with me Thursday when I go in again). At home, we cleaned up the yard some. Melted snow had uncovered bits and pieces of trash in the yard, as well as the usual spring sticks and pine-cones, so we were off to collect those and put them in their proper place. Under the guise of practicing for the upcoming egg-hunt. I love my easily bribed child.
What does any of this do with frustration, you ask? Wasn't Ken behaved like a model child? Actually, for once, he was. No complaints there. I know- shock.
My frustration is with the lack of general respect. I'm not sure if it's just a by-product of the winter's neglect now being exposed, or heightened sensitivity to it because of the stray human upstairs who lacks respect in spades, or just the spring winds. We moved to the area in which we currently reside in part out of a feeling that you can not change something from the outside. If you want to help people, you do it by becoming part of their community, full time, not just on organized work days or before going home for the night. You help by getting in there and living among those you want to help. And Dwight and I both have a streak of social justice, so we moved to the "poor" side of town in hopes of learning and helping while living a frugal life.
And learn I have indeed. I can't speak for Dwight because he does in fact have his own mind. Again- shock, right? I've learned that if people aren't shown respect in their society, they learn that they don't deserve respect. If someone has no self-respect, respect for anyone or anything else- including the environment- is a lost hope. That person then shows others no respect, and they in turn learn that they don't deserve respect, and a vicious cycle ensues. This cycle is broken not by teaching each and every person that they do in fact have worth, but by teaching society as a whole that all people have worth. We do it by rebuilding community from the inside out, a little at a time, slowly, and eventually life looks very different.
So Ken and I started by demonstrating the respect for our community on our walk- we picked up some trash. Really, quite a bit. Not all, but a lot. And we talked to our neighbors after our long winter's nap. A couple of them even joined in the task. We did something. I know it's not a lot, but it's something that I hope to continue doing now that the weather is warming. Even little mundane tasks like this can make a huge difference. Hopefully, it's for the better.
As an aside, I'd like to point you to Time Banks. We might be getting one in Kent, and it looks like another great way to help rebuild communities from the inside. In fact, I think I may just go ahead and do it.