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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, December 1, 2022
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Op-Ed: Imagine Everyone Had a Safe Place to Be and Someone to Care

This is the next article in an ongoing series of opinion pieces imagining the big, positive changes that could affect people’s lives from little, inexpensive changes here and there, building a more utopian U.S. Virgin Islands.

Imagine we were as a community able to come together and create a village where everyone is safe, where the marginalized among us had shelter and food and most important, people who cared about them.

Imagine if when we saw the suffering people among us, we didn’t get frightened, but instead we saw them as God, or the Buddha – our ourselves – and remembering the story of the Prodigal Son, we welcomed them home.

Imagine they had a home.

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Imagine if we stood with them, loved them, held them in our hearts.

There is a new and exciting movement building upon what is already being done to stand in solidarity with our abused children, our traumatized and mentally challenged, our returning formerly incarcerated brothers and sisters.

It is too soon to discuss details, and there are many details and projects to be revealed when the time is right.

But before they can work, we as a community need to imagine Peace. Imagine Love. Imagine the end of fatal self-interest.

Imagine starting with smiling at the ragged and wounded men and women with their shopping carts and brown paper bags.

Imagine not judging them. Imagine what brought them to the state they find themselves in.

Imagine you were born to their circumstances.

Imagine considering compassion instead of disgust.

These are all mindset issues and difficult to tackle when we have found a safe place in our judgement, a place where “it’s not my problem.”

We can then go back to the shelter of the solid roof over our head and dismiss and blame “the others” and cover our pain at their suffering with good food and the boundless comforts of privilege.

Imagine instead that you could be part of the movement to build safe havens and support systems for the people who by our failure and their life-long disappointments, abuse and neglect have come to the ruinous state we have met them in.

Imagine you could ask a truant child what she needed most. Imagine you could listen – really listen – to a formerly incarcerated man talk about what prison was like without judgment for or even knowledge of his past transgressions. Imagine starting there.

When Dara Feldman, chairwoman of the Virtues Project International Association, visited the Youth Rehabilitation Center on St. Croix in 2014, she told the young people, “I’m here to introduce you to yourself and make amends, an apology, for the adults who didn’t support you and your strengths, because you didn’t get here on your own,”

I have never forgotten those words. It takes courage and integrity to admit failure. But until we do, until we make that apology our starting place there’s no place to go.

I know we can build a true village where everyone is respected and loved and honored. It is what we were put here to do … care for each other, including all creatures and our planet.

“You may say I am a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. Perhaps one day you will join us and the world will become as one.”


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