I have felt, for the first time in Scotland, vulnerable in my own space. On Friday, someone came into my house and stole my bike. I chased after them but they got away. Then two days later, someone tried to steal my campervan. They broke the window, door handle and steering wheel.
This has led me to all kinds of thoughts. Revenge, wanting to separate myself from “other” kids of people, sadness and questioning why some people are compelled to take from others. I also realised that part of what I needed to do after my bike was taken was to take action. I instantly posted pictures of my bike on facebook sites and campaigned the local community to start communicating about crimes to one another and the police. This was good, this made me feel less helpless. This also made me feel divided.
At the same time all of this was happening, I was attending a two-day conference, “Feeding the Five Million”. This conference was about people in Scotland eating well and how, as a nation, we are malnourished and obese at the same time. There is food poverty here, something that is almost unthinkable in a developed and prosperous country. I also feel privileged and guilty to have a regular organic fruit and veg delivery for me and my family.
So back to feeling vulnerable and different (and admitting somewhat morally superior) from those who take. Why people steal is much more complicated than the fact that they are bad. I understand that to some extent. What worries me more is the environment which we have created which supports the gap between the rich and the poor. Why is our criminal system so ineffective, our food system so debilitating, and our national health system designed to treat the sick and not nourish good health? What changes can we make now to lead us to a better future? Quite often I go back to thinking about community. Feeling part of a community is powerful and is the whole reason Jo & I started Trade School Edinburgh. Social capital, the power of people and the value of people.
Back to the not so great feelings of humanity…What is the flip side of wanting to punch them and take back my bike? Leads me to something a read recently about how a tribe treats criminals (I can not verify this but nevertheless believe it is powerful).
How an African tribe deals with crimes.
When someone does something hurtful and wrong, they take the person to the center of town, and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell the man every good thing he has ever done. The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness. But sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help. They band together for the sake of their fellow-man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true Nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”.
So if we fed those who needed fed, listened to those who needed better health and reminded those who forgotten they were good- we would all be better. I wish we were there already but we are not. If I came face to face with the thief again, what would I say? How could I change the pattern and cycle of ill deeds? How can I support a better future by my actions and guidance of my children? And sometimes we benefit to go back to go forwards.
“It would be so much easier just to fold our hands and not make this fight…, to say, I, one man, can do nothing. I grow afraid only when I see people thinking and acting like this. We all know the story about the man who sat beside the trail too long, and then it grew over and he could never find his way again. We can never forget what has happened, but we cannot go back nor can we just sit beside the trail”.