Saturday, 18 October 2014

Closer Than You Think

Home is where the heart is. Home Sweet Home. East, West, Home is best. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. Your home is your castle –  they’d all work as cross-stitched mottoes, wouldn’t they?

I could identify with these sayings when we got close to home after our long trip. Home: it was going to be good to be home. And it was.

I wrote to a friend, “I went out and picked a vase of dahlias and asters, and plunked them on the dining room table. I added some home grown tomatoes, fresh off the vine, and some basil that had survived the fall rains, to the pasta. And I spent a whole day in my studio, just having a ball with my fabrics. It all spells home to me.”

Still life with flowers and garlic.

The homes of Madrid, New Mexico -- my first fabric project after I got back. It's a funky place! Below is a detail, enlarged.

Sleeping in your own bed. Hugging your grandkids. A bookshelf with your favourite books. Cleaning up the yard. Listening to the local radio and reading the local papers. We each have our own measurement of what’s good about being home.

So I thought, well, this will be an easy blog to write. I’ll write about the pleasures of being home versus the pitfalls of traveling.  It’ll be warm and fuzzy, and help me make the transition to staying put for a while.

I did a search for quotes about home, and found those listed above. But I also read one that caught me up short.  “Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door,” wrote Charles Dickens. Hmm. What’s that all about? Worth pondering. Then I picked up a magazine and started reading a story about women who are working for justice. Hmmm. Coincidence? Or a little tap on my shoulder telling me to pay attention?

The article introduced me to Dr. Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child Canada. She told the story of a young woman, Nadine, who lived in the Congo, one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman. She’d been twice raped and left for dead by armed thugs employed by mining companies who wished to protect their interests. Nadine’s home is next to a mine producing coltan, a substance you may never have heard of, but an indispensable component of cell phones. Since this small area of the Congo is rich in the substance, and since this mining company is determined to make as big a profit as possible, Nadine’s rape is just fallout – collateral damage, as they say about missile strikes that kill children and innocent bystanders. But doesn’t Nadine, and all the women who live in her village, long for a safe home? Don’t they want to think, as you and I do, “It’s good to be home”?

For some, home is a refugee camp; top, in Somalia; bottom, in Lebanon.
Last week I wrote about the pensive mood I’d found myself in, trying to reconcile the discrepancy of values and pursuits that often rub up against each other in my life: loving nature and travel, yet consuming large amounts of fuel to do so; wanting to support local agriculture, yet availing myself of all the conveniences of retail chains that underpay their workers,  Now, apparently, loving the conveniences of my life at home was going to be added to that list. Can I be happy at home, knowing that I am, however remotely, contributing to the unsafe home conditions of women in the Congo by purchasing a cell phone?

Nutt asked Nadine why she was telling her story so openly. “So you can tell others,” was Nadine’s reply. When we are silent, when we ignore the suffering others are living through, we are surrendering, says Nutt. When we recognize that we are all part of one community, one world, we can begin to act for justice next door, even when that "next door" is half way around the world.

Last week I was pensive. It appears that I’m going to have to move on, beyond pensive, to pondering, considering, evaluating, deciding ... and eventually, to doing. Just writing about this in my blog isn’t easy. Nor, I imagine, is it very popular -- this one won't make you smile. But it is a beginning.

“Charity begins at home.” Yes. “Justice begins next door.” Yes. In this world grown smaller by communications and the development of technology, in this global community, the "next door" in the Congo is very close to home. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jessie, welcome home . I have enjoyed your posts and the postcards.