Friday, July 1, 2016

How big is your home?

       I've been thinking a lot about "home" the last few weeks. The circumstances have been quite varied. Fairly constant in the back of mind, but occasionally coming to the fore, is the recognition that the city where I grew up (Portland, OR), has remained in some ways, my "home", even though I left forty-plus years ago. But with no immediate family there any more, my "home" isn't really there.  And so I have to wonder what/where IS my home; what defines my home? Is it family? Is it a building, a place?
      More recently and specifically, I have listened to a lot of the reporting about the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Part of the back-story was about how these kinds of clubs have become a kind of "home" for people who have been exiled from the homes of their birth. Not feeling safe in their parents' house, many LGBT folks found security with others of similar backgrounds in the clubs. The attack on Pulse was an attack on their "home" — both literally for those in Orlando, and figuratively for the wider LGBT community.

      And, then, in the last few weeks, I've seen continued coverage of the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. The numbers, as we all know, are staggering. Millions of refugees, rendered "home-less" by violence and persecution. Not only have they been robbed of their physical homes, they've been robbed of their homeland. And, many who have lost their identity papers -- now homeless and identity-less have become ghost-people.
      On another front, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom had notions of "home" running through it. Some of those who wanted the UK to leave the European Union did so because they wanted more "home"-first policies, more self-determination.  Others felt a threat to their "home" from immigrants and refugees because of the EU's open-borders policies. The vote was to "pull in", in some respects to make the notion of "home" smaller, i.e., "Our 'home'-identity is not 'European', but rather 'English'."
      So I've been wondering about how "big" is our home? And this "came home" to me the other day when I watched a short video, called "A World of Solutions".  The narration (done by Morgan Freeman) pointed out that our "world" may indeed be threatened because of pollution, over-population, etc. But what that REALLY meant was that WE (humans) were threatened; the world would heal itself and continue as it has for millions of years regardless of human habitation. The underlying call of the film was for us to see that if we--humanity--want our home to survive, we will have to work together to make that happen.
       How big IS our home? Do we really believe that re-arranging the furniture, or casting some away, or putting some keepsakes/antiques in a place of prominence, will keep the house from deteriorating?

       A more expansive vision of "home" is what we really need, not a more restrictive one.To quote former President Ronald Reagan, " . . . tear down that wall!"



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