Human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
Yesterday I received an email from a friend and artist extraordinaire; he was getting ready to sculpt a commission on the theme of peace. He went to my blog in search of peace and commented on the lack of. Therefore this blog is dedicated to peace within my extended village family of Harford Village.
Peace is walking down the village road calling out people’s names as you pass; stopping to share old and new talk with neighbors on their verandahs, or neighbors working in their gardens, or neighbors bringing in their goats, or neighbors pelting mangos from a tree, or neighbors liming on recycled benches; collectively built throughout the community, or neighbors strolling down the road; themselves talking, chatting, calling out their mornings, evenings and nights. I carry a bag on these strolls down the road, knowing gifts are shared along the way; an arm load of ripening mangoes, a handful of plums, a stick of sugar cane, a taste of someone’s food, a bunch of callalloo freshly cut.
Friendliness is knowing everyone knows your name or some version of a name meant to be you; “Good morning Sistren” or “bless up girlfriend”, or “you all right Rasta?” or “Maya’s Mommy going for a walk?” or “Stay bless sistah” or “Mrs. Theo where you walking so fast?” or “Guidance Sister Friend” or “Hold tight Daughter”.
Cooperation is watching Theo share the upkeep of a cow with his two Rasta brethren; daily figuring out when to cut, gather and transport feeding for their collective copper mama cow.
Authentic concern is when neighbors do not see you for a couple days and express this through questions of care: “you sick?” “What happened to you; I ain’t seeing you at all girl”, “How you scarce so?”; “You under house arrest or what?”
Freedom is the freedom to sing at the top of one’s voice anytime and anywhere; while filling buckets at the stand pipe, or strolling down the road, or sitting at the junction waiting for some friends, or picking peas by the side of the road, or hanging clothes, or getting on a bus.
Passion is the nations’ collective love of music, dance, drum anything that propels the body into movement; most of the time conscious some of the time not so conscious, but still a shared vibe of rhythm and movement.
Lending a hand is the planning and building of our peach painted community centre that sits proud in the middle of our village, testifying what our village people can do. An array of farmers, teachers, masons, carpenters, artists, government workers, vendors, nurses, police officers, hand crafters, service workers, mechanics fill up our small community; the sharing of assets and skills whether it be a boil that is lanced and dressed, or an old car battery replaced, or a grafted plant cut and shared; or a document to be faxed and carried to town; or tables to be made for the community centre, or signs to be painted for the next week’s bingo, or a drive to the medical station, or a weekend maroon scheduled to break down and rebuild someone’s house.
Hospitality is being welcomed or welcoming friends who drop by anytime of the day with no particular reason but to simply acknowledge an innate sense of community. Our yard and home a testimony to this innate community feeling; with daily gatherings of kids of all ages strewn across our veranda sharing the latest news, or taking turns on the “skin up” tree swing; or lying on the floor drawing, reading, building houses with hard covered books. Adults also drop by daily like Theo’s various brothers checking in while quenching their thirst with a glass of water or a shot of rum, sistren friends checking in before heading home to cook, brethren friends wondering if Theo can drop them down the road. And always a pot of food on the stove with more then enough to share for whoever’s belly may be grumbling or not grumbling.
I give thanks and praise to community; my extended village family filling me up with teachings of extendedness, of shared humanness, of fearlessness, of pure and simple loveliness.