I’ve been intrigued recently by a series of articles written by people who have left the
One thing these readers have in common is their desire to escape a materialistic society where culture and family support have broken down. They’re happier in places where life is slower and there’s a greater emphasis on family and community support.
In recent years
This brings a few questions to my mind.
This isn’t about staying in the
I admit, when I read travel books and the articles referred to above, I wouldn’t mind living in another country for a time to see what it’s like. I’m certain it will never happen to me and my family though. And it’s not going to happen for most of us.
To get to the heart of the matter, none of us will survive alone. We need some kind of support system, whether it’s family, church, or another type of community. While moving abroad or to another part of this country may be necessary to find such a support system, isn’t it possible to make things a little better by reaching out to others where we are now?
I know this may come across as idealistic, and I’m going to spout things that make me sound like a raving liberal—the kind of things I used to hate hearing when I was growing up. But bear with me a minute or two if you would.
I can’t help but think of a friend in another state as I write. Her real name doesn’t matter, so let’s call her Pat. She’s intelligent, blind, and unemployed. The apartment building she lives in is run down and deteriorating. The landlords are a married couple who live 100 plus miles away. Pat feels the need to advocate for others in her building and often has confrontations with the landlords when they’re in town.
Pat also has medical problems that complicate things for her. She needs surgery to repair a broken foot that hasn’t healed properly. She attempts to reduce swelling in her foot by taking pills that interfere with prescribed antidepressants. If her foot is swollen, she can’t put snow boots on in wintry weather to take out her trash. But when she’s off the antidepressants, her behavior toward others does her no favors.
Tasks like grocery shopping pose a hardship. Public transportation has been reduced, and it’s difficult to find reliable people to serve as drivers, especially when money is short. She would love to move somewhere else, but circumstances won’t allow for that right now. There’s more to the story, but you get the idea. Her prospects are bad and getting worse.
What do we do about Pat and others like her? Write them off as messed up losers? In the midst of a disaster, such as EMP or total collapse, Pat will be among the first to die.
But what about in the here and now? Pat has no suitable support network. How far would simple acts of compassion go to improve her situation? I’m not talking about syrupy pity for a poor blind woman. I’m talking about real world neighborliness.
Perhaps Pat’s situation calls for more than that. It may require going the “extra mile” for her. But what will happen to her if someone nearby doesn’t simply treat her like a human being?
To refer back to the title of this piece, does survival mean leaving
The Scriptures tell us we should love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s not possible or wise to love everyone, but another Biblical principle comes to mind. In order to have friends, you must be a friend. That’s a good starting point.
Your thoughts are welcome.