Since traveling on a couple of missions trips to Russia and Cuba I see the world differently; the greater world and my local world. Within my own country I see drastic differences between the west and east, between Ontario and Nova Scotia.
What I see is the people. People in Russia are wonderful, but it takes a bit of time to get past the questioning exterior. After years of communism, the Russian people need to know they can trust you before they open their heart to you. When we take the time to build trust, the rewards are beautiful.
My friends in Cuba were instant. My son and I were blessed to spend a number of days with the locals. They are the warmest people who have a genuine joy in their lives that instantly spreads in their presence. I cherish their friendship, even though contact is sporadic.
Spending time on Canada’s east coast, my wife and I soon discovered the hospitality that awaits. The pace of life is noticeably slower, as though they appreciate simplicity.
Living in Alberta in the late 90’s showed how accepting others can be as we were welcomed into a home to live and were cared for by virtually everyone we met.
What has made all of these experiences memorable has been the people. People who have taken the time to get to know us, people who we have taken time to get to know. Everyone has a story and will tell it when we just show the respect that everyone deserves.
You see, no one relied on others to make the relationship, it was between us. There was no outside force dictating how we communicate, we just did and we were blessed for it. There is such a freedom in it.
I am concerned about the direction of our society though. When I look at Russia and Cuba, both with a history of communism, the people make a means for themselves. They don’t seem to rely on the government for their answers, but they do know there are rules to be followed. They don’t wait for their support cheques, instead they make work. They don’t scream that the government didn’t pay them enough to cover their rent, they live within their means.
Here though, we repeatedly, without fail, look to the government to solve our problems and tell us what to do. There is a constant flow of demands for new and tougher laws. When laws are broken we want the authorities to carry our tougher sentences and then renew the call for revised laws. We have demands and want them acted on, by the government, not actually ourselves in many cases. During the Victoria Day weekend in London, Ontario, police received approximately 40 noise complaints. Noise complaints over fireworks. There was no mention of neighbourhoods getting together to celebrate, but instead 40 different people who wanted the police to tell their neighbours that having fun was not acceptable to them because it was too loud. Seriously?
What concerns me is the apparent loss of community as we turn ourselves over to increased government control. We seem to be okay with this too.
The answers to many of the woes that challenge our world, our country, our provinces, our cities and towns can be addressed if we look inward, into our own community. When we once knew our neighbours, took family vacations together and went outside, things were different. It was not just a matter of the times being different, we have changed and with our advances we have lost the fundamental basics that worked for generations.
Remember when our parents knew all of our friends and were able to call their parents if there was a problem? I am amazed at the parents today who regularly don’t know where they child is, how to contact them or who the parents are!
I firmly believe that if we talk to each other, get to know each other, here each other’s stories and listen to each other without getting our backs up we would have an extremely different community, without the need for government legislation dictating our actions and restrictions. It all comes down to mutual respect.
No matter the issue, whether bullying or the homeless, we can solve this together.
Everyone has a story. Do you know your neighbour’s?