Joining the linkup over at Five Minute Friday this week. It is the last one of 2018. I am hoping to participate a little more regularly in 2019.
“With”. It is a small word that has big meaning. This has been a rough couple of months in our little corner of the world. I live in Chico CA, next to Paradise and near Concow, where the Camp Fire ravaged a majority of those cities. We are now six weeks out from the fire starting, about two weeks out from its end and the impacts are being felt all over. Our smallish city (90,000 in a rather spread out area) has taken on a new population of fire victims that number in the 10s of 1000s. We have FEMA centers and insurance tents and a Red Cross Shelter at our fairgrounds that has a bunch of RVs and trailers that people are now calling “home”. When the fire first happened, people in Chico were welcoming and giving and patient. But, as time has worn on, that spirit has been dampened a bit. As our roads have gotten more crowded and lines have gotten longer and patience has worn thin and the holiday stress has taken over, people may be “for” the Camp Fire victims (they don’t wish them harm by any means), but they aren’t as much “with” the Camp Fire victims. They don’t want to suffer along WITH them. This idea of being “for” people or causes is strong in our society, but it becomes a little more unique to find people who are willing to be WITH those people or causes. We feel comfortable sending along our donations. We feel good about volunteering here and there to help out. But, when it comes to actually sitting or standing WITH the people who need help, it becomes harder. We are busy. We have our own stuff going on. We want our own space.
So, now the true test of our community begins. As we move forward and need to decide where to put FEMA trailers (we’ve already rejected them being put in an area near me because the “community” doesn’t want more traffic and there are limited “services” like stores and such – this, I think, is true of anywhere in our city now), will we be WITH those who need homes or we will view them as separate from us, where it is US vs. THEM and who should be valued more (or equally)? I think we will be asking these questions for many, many months to come. I hope that we will remember that we are all one community and we are here WITH them, dealing with this disaster of an unprecedented level. But, we may just decide we are FOR them instead and will look for ways to help that do not impact us in a way that means sacrifice and discomfort.