I was listening to someone talk about volunteering north of Winnipeg in the sandbagging efforts. She talked about what a great time she had. She specifically talked about how a group of strangers so very quickly came together to do the job, and that there was “none of the awkwardness” which so frequently arises when in a situation that you are unfamiliar with the people and surroundings. Interviews in the media have people enjoying themselves, marvelling at all the good food that others have brought, and “feeling their muscles” knowing that all the energy went to good use. They’ve seen exhuasted and overwhelmed people cry with relief as busloads of people come to help save their home.
I was listening to an interview with a Hutterite woman, who came with a vanfull of fellow Hutterites from an hour’s drive away to help. The interviewer asked her something to the effect of, “So, what would you tell people when they might ask you about why you and the others have come from such a distance to help out when you’re clearly safe, and you’re helping other strangers? What would you say?” (opening the door to some profound wisdom, a mini-sermon, or a commercial of some sort for the Hutterite lifestyle) The woman said simply (in that wonderful accent she has):
“Vell, da people need help, and ve can help”
She didn’t understand the question like a fish doesn’t understand water.
She experiences the value of working together, the comfort found in facing adversity together, the fun and laughter of many hands tackling the problem. She knows, from the inside out, the value of community.
Pity, it takes the risk of imminent flood for the rest of us to figure this out. Even more of a pity that many of us will forget until the next crisis comes along.