Gratitude can be a powerful tool for moving past our story of what’s wrong with the world. Simple reminders of what we have to be grateful for.
But in those thoughts of gratitude, we sometimes forget the basics. Those things we take for granted that not everyone enjoys. Safety, shelter, sustenance, and a role to play in society. If you’ve ever been in a place where you lost some of that, or even came close to it, you value even those basics.
I live in a magnificent city, often voted one of the best cities in the world for livability. We sit on a peninsula between an ocean inlet and a river. To the north, mountains; to the west, ocean; to the east, a lush valley; to the south, a large river delta. Nature is rich and green here, year-round. You can ski in the morning and go boating in the afternoon. The area has the most moderate climate in Canada.
But it’s popularity makes it the most expensive in the country. For people without a job, it can be a rough place. Some of those without an address choose to live on the streets rather than have their sparse possessions stolen or be infested in over-crowded temporary “shelters”.
It’s a complex issue. There’s a lot of in-migration here. Funding from the safety net has not increased in years yet costs have climbed markedly. In a move to get the mildly mentally ill out of institutions, many were closed but not enough assisted living replaced it. Those that don’t fit in get left out. Some become drug addicts. As a port city, it’s also a drug trafficking hub.
As with any city, or any other type of situation, if we ignore what’s wrong, it will fester and grow. Acting against the problem is a start but fighting something can give it strength, sustaining what you seek to end. The trick is, positive attention brings light to the darkness. Working with rather than against.
One such move is this years Gratitude Week, Oct. 12 – 16. Starting from a place of Gratitude, remembering those basics we may take for granted.
From that place, they ask each person in the community to donate 1 dollar.
This will fund completion of the renovations on 2 buildings and house 100 people in reasonable accommodation. They estimate 2600 street people here. So over time, it would only take $26 from everyone in the city to house everyone in the city. Considering that millions are poured into the “problem” every year, this is dirt cheap.
Certainly, this just takes care of accommodation. There is still food and livelihood. Programs to overcome addiction and help the mentally ill. And so forth. But if someone is securely housed, their attention can open to other avenues than where they’ll sleep tonight. And you can actually attend programs and look for a job.
This illustrates how changing our attention can help with even our most difficult problems. We’re in this together. There is no me and you, there is just us. Anyone we leave out is an aspect of ourselves we have forgotten. The longer they remain marginalized, the longer we are incomplete.
What are you grateful for? And what are you doing about it?
Oct. 12 – 16, Gratitude week