I regularly receive emails from residents who ask questions or want to voice their views on an issue. I recently read one from a resident whose counsel I would like to share.
… It is appropriate that we all treat each other with civility and that we refrain from name-calling (which both sides of a disagreement are unfortunately prone to do) regardless of how irritated we might get with each other's viewpoints and comments.
Families make plans based on their expectations that those who govern their environment will make decisions in the best interest of their family's health, including protecting them from air pollution, poor water quality, crime, public indecency, … .
Highland has been a family-centered (not commercial-center) community. Living in Africa this past year, where people are materially poor but emotionally happy, (with a negligible suicide rate I might add) despite what we would call astounding poverty, I realize how commercialized our lives have become. For example, I wondered if Ghana celebrates Mother's Day because I didn't see ANY sign of it in the stores. I was surprised that on Mother's Day I received many text messages from people all over west Africa who simply wanted to express their appreciation. It didn't occur to them to have to BUY something to show love.
A nurse at one of the hospitals here pointed out to me that I sometimes come into the patient ward and never even acknowledge the care the nurses have been showing to my patients. My first defensive thought was that I'm always busy and in a rush. But here in this "poor" society where the hospital looks like it has spent the last millennium disintegrating on the ocean floor and then was dragged up and plopped on a piece of land in Accra, people are much more civil and human than I have been or thought of being.
I plead with our city council to make decisions that INCREASE PERSONAL CONNECTIONS and DECREASE COMMERCIAL MATERIALISM. Can we be brave and say "no" to money? Do we have to always make money our guiding incentive? Money should be our servant not our master. We really don't need more "stuff."
I walked through the Accident Ward of a hospital several days this week and each time I saw the same man with a neck collar lying on a gurney in the same position without anything to read or watch or do in the hot, stinky, overcrowded ward with many other injured people in their blood-soaked bandages all lying on gurneys lined up one after another without any privacy. The last time I walked through I leaned over to tell him I wished him a speedy recovery. A bright smile lit up his face and he said (in typical Ghana lingo) "You're welcome" (which means thank you) and gave me the thumbs up sign. What a lesson in gratitude and humanity. I hope we Highlanders will have less money, less stuff, and less worry about it. …
I love this reminder of how richly we are blessed and how can disagree but should do so without being disagreeable. Thanks kind resident for sharing your thoughts! They raised my spirit after a tough week.
Note, I believe each member of city council makes decisions which they believe are best for Highland from their point of view. Residents sharing their perspective on issues often helps council members broaden their own. However, we don’t always win. I didn’t when I was on the council but somehow the sun came up the next day, my family still loved me, my friends still cared about me, and people in Highland still smiled (well mostly:).