It's my birthday today. I'm 68 years old, wife to Charlie, mom to Jonathan, and executive director of BUILDING OHANA. As I approached this day, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock of how I'm living my life and yes--even though I'm aging--how I can make a difference in a better, stronger and more loving way.
Sounds funny to talk about strength as I examine my ways, when almost everything points to weakness, need, mistakes, failures and sometimes downright foolishness. And the complete list is much longer. But recently, and FINALLY, after a long life of not knowing, I've come to believe that these are the very human qualities that connect me with everyone else on the planet, if I let them.
This blog is about neighboring, so I should get to the point. Once upon a time, and even now in cultures across the world, closely knit communities have existed. Not perfectly, as in some kind of utopian novel, but rather because the natural world (including us) can be so very challenging and sometimes so openly hostile to life. Village life is a hodgepodge of human strengths and vulnerabilities, as we all have lists like my own. Villagers live selfishly and sacrificially, sometimes stealing what belongs to our neighbors and then sometimes offering everything up in love for another. But we are together, and that makes us better.
The recovery of anything means that it's already there, waiting for us under some kind of debri that can be excavated if we want. If underneath the debri of my independence (and my isolation) are the very qualities that make me human, then I am at my core, created for connection. If it might be true that we are all made stronger and more able to live by such a connection, then being human isn't about being perfect, larger than life, or some kind of hero, but being together, human, living the messy life that shows us how much we need one another.
The recovery of neighboring is about bulldozing the debri that separates us in our hearts, our relationships, our homes and our communities -- and doing it on purpose. Life in OHANA Village will not easy or perfect; it will be just as complex and messy as it needs to be to bring us together to solve so many of the intractable problems that plague our culture --discrimination, neglect, isolation, and the wholesale lie of "them and us." We are our brothers' keepers and they are ours. Neighborhood practices that remember and live this truth are recovering our humanity and our purpose.