By PAT WATSON
The first of the month has come and gone and you still don’t have the rent money. You used what meager resources you had at your disposal to pay the phone bill or the electricity bill, otherwise you might have lost the service and that reconnection charge is more than what you owe. Modern life insists that we stay connected. So with some discomfort for the fourth or fifth time – you’ve lost count – you call the landlord and ask him not to cash that rent cheque just yet. Notifying him about the delay is the lesser of two evils, because if you hadn’t taken that step you could face the other problem – a bounced cheque. Your two or three part-time jobs are still not enough to keep you ahead of the demands of the cost of living.
So you ask yourself, where is my economic recovery? And you tell your children to make sure to plan for a career that will not only be in demand but to make sure they have the skills for which employers will be more than willing to pay a lot of money. You repeat this advice often because you don’t want them to have to face the same dismaying scramble to earn money that is your day-to-day preoccupation.
Moreover, over a cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s when you explain all this to your associates, all they can offer you is the unhelpful phrase, ‘Welcome to the club.’ It brings to mind the old joke about not wanting to belong to any club that would have you as a member.
Life is a journey, at least that is one way of viewing it. Along the way there are many challenges before we reach the inevitable destination. The long view of time gives meaning to that journey and it is only after one has travelled some distance that one begins to get even a glimpse of what it is all about.
To make some sense of it, those who are of modest means must of necessity find another resource for sustenance. Would it therefore be a surprise to know that there are more poor people in church than wealthy people? Also, there are more Black churchgoers as a percentage of the total Black population compared to the larger society. When nothing else seems to be working, faith is a reliable recourse.
Sitting next to faith is hope, the sense that no matter how uncertain a person’s circumstances are at the moment, something positive is just around the corner. When all else fails, these two have held tremendous power to carry a person through to the next day, and the next.
Not only that, but as difficult as any given situation may appear, a person in the midst of the storm still manages somehow to get through it. We all know someone who is going through his or her own challenge aided by remarkable inner strength.
The final partner in challenging times is community support; the help and companionship of those on whom we can lean a little, or maybe more than a little if need be. In days past, when most people’s world was the size of a village, everyone was connected so that the common bond was always within reach. We all greeted each other in passing with ‘hello’ and ‘good day.’ Big city life has weakened that bond and we have to make a personal effort to reach for that old time village. For, really, it is the loss of that everyday bond, aside from all the other demands in life that most impoverishes us.
A note on the extension of contracts…
Ontario’s ombudsman Andre Marin has had his contract renewed for five years and, aside from some disgruntled members of his staff who consider him to be too tough a boss, a lot of people are happy because they believe he is doing a good job of taking the government to task where necessary. Along the lines of renewing and extending contracts, we still don’t know what will become of Michaëlle Jean come September. Will she remain as Canada’s Governor General for one more year? In a recent poll more than half the respondents said she has been doing a good job and they would like her to stay on.
One wonders what Mme Jean’s position in on the matter. Does she want to stay on?