Delivery is a one way gesture, one party passes something along to another. In the ten years I have been in this community (which really, isn’t a long time at all) I have seen many people step in and deliver something to those in the community. Sometimes these people move into the community, and sometimes they stop in temporarily for their delivery.
Either way, these deliverers stay closest with those more like them in culture, in race, in upbringing; acknowledge the “others” around them but at the same time communicating (intentionally or not) that they are simply there to provide. These deliverers often come from “better” backgrounds, have lived with different resources, and believe in their “higher thinking systems” or solutions to fix their recipient’s community or personal problem. So they step in and decide what it is the community needs, they announce what’s wrong, and prescribe what should be done for or to the neighbor while at the same time maintaining a distance, not stepping in close to truly see the person, the background of the issue, the larger context in which the dilemma lies.
Delivery turns people into projects. A project to fix and when it is deemed better, improved, or unfixable the person moves along to the next exciting project. It is easy to do this without realizing what’s being communicated especially when the delivery is done across cultural lines. It is not so easy to come close. Go near. Identify with. Take down the barriers. Be with others as neighbors, as friends that also have something to offer to the relationship, as equal human beings.
I have been on both ends of the spectrum; I have been the project and sadly, have made others into projects. In the past ten years however, I have observed how much this delivery system hurts others. I’ve also learned how much one misses when one simply solving others’ problems instead of seeing them as a person – as an individual with gifts, skills, strengths, as a person who is equal in value and importance.
When people are different from us, we can get by easily without actually coming close to them or identifying with their lives. We need to come close though.
By stepping in close the pat answers and delivered solutions don’t work anymore. By coming close we are given the privilege to walk with another individual. Because that is what it is, a privilege, it is an honor to get to peer into another’s life, to not only encourage and trouble shoot when the situation calls for it but to have the other do the same for you!
I love living in this community. I am thankful to the many neighbors who have opened their homes and allowed me to take part of a meal, to share in a holiday, or to simply sit around in the living room and chat. It is a privilege to live here.