There are big yellow machines all around my house. They are tearing up the roads. They are digging huge holes. They are moving soil here, there and everywhere. They are noisy and smelly with their beep, beep and diesel fumes. They dig and tear at the earth for hours 5 days a week, 12 hours a day. And I am grateful. Most people are not grateful, and sometimes I am not, for the disruption and noise that construction causes. But for those of us lucky enough to have scored the golden ticket and live in this fine country of Canada and more specifically, this fine city of Burlington, we should be grateful.
Grateful that we live in a country where we are charged taxes that, for the most part, are used responsibly to help the citizens that pay them. That the hard earned money we see sucked off our paycheques each week goes to free health care, decent education, public works, amazing libraries (which I believe I help to fund privately with my late fees), museums, provincial parks, conservation areas, clean and safe streets and in general a good life. The worst of our poor, for the most part, have it better than most parts of the world. Our poor, who in this great country with all it’s resources should not exist, at least have access to services and food banks and shelters. Though their circumstances are not what we would hope them to be, at least there is hope.
They do not watch helplessly as their children lie starving and dying in their arms. They do not watch as their 8 year old son is drafted in to the army for the want to be ruling regime. They do not have to succumb to basic illnesses that are so easily prevented or cured. Where a cold is a death sentence instead of a 7 day inconvenience. Where getting clean, safe water is a daily 2 hour hike and not a sure thing like our quick trip to the kitchen. Where life is an everyday struggle of making it through the next 24 hours without being bombed or raped. Where everyday is an exercise in survival and seeking of the most basic needs of human life.
What do I know of that type of life ? With a grateful heart I can say nothing. I do not know what it is like to go hungry or have my babies starve inside me. But I do know what it’s like to run a food drive and donate to the local food banks. I do not know what it is like to watch my child suffer needlessly. But I do know that I have had to avail myself of the amazing health care system that saved my son’s life more than once. I do not know what it is like to run in fear from a crazed soldier or a stealthy bomb. But I do know what it is to feel fear and panic and suddenly realize that I have no real appreciation for what that truly means.
I do not live in a country where those who have power prey on the ignorance and desperation of its people. At least I hope so. Where the hard earned money of those same people is used to fund the vacation homes of the powerful ones. I do not live in a country where those who have power allow their people to die in the streets for a cause that they don’t even understand is about someone else’s dream. I do not live in a country where information is filtered and edited and withheld so that the dream of the powerful ones becomes the news of those that are weaker. And for this I am grateful.
Grateful that the roads are, for the most part, smooth and safe and get me from A to B in one piece. Grateful that I live with opportunity and the option to follow my dreams and not someone else’s. Grateful that I will more than likely never know true terror. Grateful that my next brush with a cold is easily treated by a trip to the pharmacy down the road. I will be grateful for the big yellow machines that will continue to dig holes for the next month. For these big holes will hold pipes to bring fresh water to my house. These big holes that were not made by bombs being dropped within 20 feet of my home. With every trip to the tap I will try to remember to be grateful. I might even offer a glass to the drivers of the big noisy machines outside. And I’m sure they would be grateful too.