Posts Tagged ‘bursts of hope’

Figuring Out Independence

July 4, 2012

As a child, the Fourth of July was always a big event in the towns we lived. World War II was in full swing and everyone who could wear a uniform met and marched in the parade, starting with flag bearing honor guards from all branches of the service, jeeps and tanks, the town fire trucks and ambulance, a police car, representatives of the American Legion, DAR, Girl Scouts and Brownies, Boy Scouts and Cubs, little girls with decorated doll carriages, unicycle riders, horseback riders, clowns, big balloons, a few dignitaries in antique cars and a few more in cars as big as boats, all kept buoyant by the local high school band playing every marching song they knew. Everyone else lined the route waving little flags. And at night, there were always fireworks somewhere to celebrate. 

As years passed and the war we hoped would really end all wars didn’t end all wars, people gradually didn’t want to see reminders of war and all the pain and mixed feelings about what was being accomplished by war. Those of us working in the mental health field began seeing more people with PTSD, Post  Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and were gripped by horrendous stories of what our service people were being ordered to do and how many were treated in general. We were alarmed and not surprised that many who returned home could not live with their memories and committed suicide at a rate that equaled or surpassed the documented casualty rate of the war. Rehab was and continues to be The enormous challenge for therapists as well as clients.

 Parades have dwindled but fireworks continue in what seems like bursts of  hope that we will actually be able to live free and healthy lives, we will all be able to get along.  At this point, the whole world is included in the challenge and our basic needs for water, food and energy vie with the strength of our environment to put up with all we have tried to rearrange and control, rather than live in harmony with.

 In earlier times, strength lay in communities. People were aware of their dependence on each other which gave them a sense of community independence. It was pretty easy to just move someplace else if one was not satisfied with the way things were going. Today, it has become important to figure out how to get along, share what needs to be shared, and look out for each other because there is less freedom to move. This is the tall order for our times and a challenge that will determine whether we can achieve independent communities and understand what freedom requires.

 This is a move away from big everything chaos to small focused effectiveness. Those of us who have been lucky enough to have farming roots somewhere in our recent or distant past, also have the benefit of recognizing the difference between quality of life and pretense of quality.

 The true test of an independent community will be whether the people in it are willing to do whatever needs to be done to keep each other well. That means applying this principle to water sources, safe food, clean energy, education, environmentally sensitive agriculture, business practices, forest and wetlands management, health care, recreation, music, art, spiritual practices – the whole spectrum of life. Whatever we do for each other comes around to each of us.