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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finding a Balance

Sometimes it takes the wisdom of Solomon to find a balance between the greater good and the interests or concerns of individuals. Take for example the issue of serving the poor in our neighborhood. There are numerous ministries or programs in our neighborhood that provide services to folks that are homeless, dealing with addictions, unemployed or barely making a livable income. As our neighborhood has revitalized these social ministry programs have become lightning rods of concern as we all struggle to find a way to coexist and yet keep the momentum going on the road to continued renewal. There's a perception out there that these types of social outreach programs can be detrimental to the revitalization of a community. The notion here is that these types of programs attract and bring "undesirable elements" into our quiet neighborhood and that having these "elements" in our community will have a negative affect on property values, the safety of our community and feed the negative perception of the Eastside. There may be some validity to that notion yet if we look in our own backyard you're likely to see neglect in the form of empty houses and overgrown and trashy empty lots. This kind of neglect contributes to the "broken window" theory of community apathy and does nothing to improve or erase old perceptions about the Eastside.
So I get a little confused when we focus our attention on these ministries yet there seems to be little that we do or can do about absentee landlords, that we allow trash to lie along our streets, that we allow dogs to run free in the neighborhood, that houses go unpainted, that empty lots are get the picture.

The point of this rant: The poor and the needy will always be with us so we need to be compassionate and find ways to provide dignity...that's called service. As residents of this community we can do something about maintaining our homes and our lots, we can push the city for infrastructure improvements....that's called responsibility. Finding that balance between service and community responsibility takes a relationship. And like all relationships it takes a little bit of give and take to reach a healthy balance between the visions of those that feel called to serve and those of us that feel that this community could be even better.
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