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Community is Life or Death

I’ve been thinking a lot about how modern humans have lost touch with their world.
I’m eating apples for breakfast right now. I had corn on the cob for dinner last night. Pineapple is always available.
When, in Ohio, we should be eating cherries, beets, rhubarb and strawberries.

And then there is all the light pollution that makes it so we can’t see the sky.
Here’s a person star gazing in Hocking Hills:

We truly have lost touch with our surroundings.
Perhaps the greatest loss is our understanding of community.
“Community” has become a series of institutions. Fire, police, medical, utilities, trash service. That’s what community is for us today. It’s such a smooth operation that we have lost touch with what community truly is: community, at its core, is life or death.
For all the complaining we do about this or that department of society, we’d be living a much different life faster than you might imagine, if any one of our community services failed.
We see community in its most pure form every single day at The Homeless Charity Village.
Young people help old people put up their tents. Individuals buy milk to give to the group. Divisions of labor have developed. Jimmy takes out the trash. Brett watches over the day center. Willy cleans the bathrooms. Our elders bestow wisdom and structure for all of us.
There is no money to hire these things done. There is only community.
But community becomes everything.
Community at The Homeless Charity Village becomes absolutely apparent at the life or death level.

This weekend we had an overdose.

A young man had injected Fentanyl in his tent.
It was at this point that most people here believe the only reason that young man is alive today is because of divine intervention.
We have a newer resident: Ethan. He’s on our security team.
The laundry attendants asked Ethan to go back to the tent city and see if he could find some missing clothes baskets. Sometimes people leave them in their tent after doing laundry. (I’ve never heard of this being done before. It was just a “random” request.)
Ethan had a couple tents he was going to check. He certainly couldn’t check all 50 tents.
He said that he had no intention to go to one woman’s tent. But she was standing outside of her tent. He walked over to her to ask her if she had a clothes basket.
As he was walking towards her he heard the most faint moan.
He asked the woman he was talking with if she heard it. She said no.
Ethan called out to the head of security, Brandon. Because Ethan is new, he didn’t know the protocol. Was he allowed to open a tent if he felt something was wrong? Brandon told him he most certainly could.
Ethan unzipped the tent.
Inside he found a young man laying across his bedding. His back was arched slightly backwards making his head and feet below his chest.
He was foaming at the mouth. He was making an almost imperceptible gurgling noise. He was purple.
This was Sunday.
Two days earlier, on Friday, we had a Narcan training class. Ethan was part of that class.
Not only was Ethan trained how to use Narcan, he also was carrying it with him.
He administered two doses of Narcan in hopes of bringing the man back.
It didn’t work.
Brandon then came over. He also had been certified on Friday for using Narcan. And he had his Narcan with him.
The third dose was administered. It didn’t work.
The fourth dose was administered.
The man began to breathe on his own. He slowly moved his wrist.
Ethan and Brandon saved this man’s life.
During all of this they also had called 911. The paramedics and fire department came to continue helping this man.
It was discovered that he had overdosed on Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is significantly more powerful than heroine. It’s very easy to overdose on it.
But Narcan can revive people who overdose if they administer it in time.
This is community.
This man would most certainly have died if he was living in a tent in the woods.
This is why we all need each other.
And most importantly, this is why these people, who have absolutely nothing, need each other.
Humans can’t survive alone. But together we can prevail. Together we can do amazing things.
Society has lost its understanding of what community is.
We have a mentality of “we got ours.” And “it’s either our way or the highway.”
If people don’t fit into the one size fits all society we lose interest in them very quickly.
This is early society mentality. The weak and old either need to keep up or they will be left behind.
America does not need to live in such a brutal society.
We don’t need to leave the weakest among us to die alone in the gutters of America.
And what’s worse, these people at our tent city aren’t asking for anything from the city other than to exist. They aren’t asking for handouts or special dispensation.
All these people are hoping for is that someone who has all the power will say, “You can live.”
But right now that’s not what the people in power are saying.
All across America the powerful are saying:
“Don’t feed the homeless. You are just encouraging them.”
“Don’t give the homeless a place to pitch a tent. You are making them too comfortable.”
We are lead by people who think they are still living in dog eat dog times where if we give a person a place to put a $50 Walmart tent we are risking too much as a society. They must either get on board with the system or…
Or what?
I’m pretty sure the unspoken answer is: “Or just crawl away and die.”
Ethan was holding this revived man in his arms as he came back to life.
After the paramedics came and took over, Ethan stepped away.
He began to sob.
He had never experienced holding someone in his arms that was so close to death.
He had never experienced helping someone come back to life.
He had never experienced the fundamental core and power of what it means to be part of a community.

5 thoughts on “Community is Life or Death

  1. So just close it down Horrigon, Ball and Akron Citizen who don’t care because it not them or theirs! You better take a good hard look at what your kids and your families are doing! Would you just let Ethan , a homeless walk to his camp under a bridge, would you let him starve,, Or because he saved your baby (1 month to 87 yrs old your children are always your baby), he save your parent he save your grandchildren. You would most likely give him a room in your house, and feed him! Its a different perspictive when its you, your kids or your family, Ask the kids parent, Ethan saved !!!

  2. I can’t tell you how many times as a professional paramedic I gave Narcan. It once cost me my front teeth. But, even as a professional paramedic you never lose that fear of not saving a life. You do go home and cry as well, if not in the back of the squad.
    I just joined an other Organisation to help addicts, to carry Narcan now as a citizen. It breaks my heart and at the same time.
    That is someone’s, Son or Daughter not just an addict. Their story should not end alone on the street or in a tent. We can love them. Community is everything.
    Great job. Ethan and all who care for each other.

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