There’s a ninety-three year old woman who lives alone in a picturesque little town northwest of London called Stony Stratford. She doesn’t have any family. Once a week, she goes to her local library where she borrows novels that contain stories to fill her days and where she also has the sole (soul) conversation of her entire week.
They’re closing her library because of the lack of important funds in the United Kingdom. Which means that this woman who has lived her life alone until ninety-three and has her only conversation once a week with the kind people who work at her local library, who fills her days with the stories of novels that she is able to borrow from there, who I am certain looks forward to her visit as a way of confirming that she’s still a part of this living world, will essentially be severed from her community.
It is just one story of one old woman and one library in a small village in the English countryside. Why should we really care?
I really do care, though, because I know I could so easily be that woman. I may not be ninety-three, yet, but I live alone with very little human contact and I really am so grateful for and do cherish my moments of connection and community when I find them. Our libraries are so much more than a bastion of books. They offer meeting places, community centers for our neighborhoods, safe and well-lighted places for a single woman to hang out and explore all the things that might interest her. They are vital neighborhood resources that allow everyone of us a place to learn, to grow, to visit books and each other.
The folks who work at my library are quite kind about me using all my words when I’m there. I have such little adult interaction that when I do, I sometimes get overly chatty. I realize this and try to not go overboard, but I can share that the people who work at my library (and at the Coffee garden, natch) probably also have degrees in social work (and if not, they’ve earned them) because they truly know how to wrangle my crazy and nod appreciatively and listen while I talktalktalktalk and, as I said, use up all my words.
It breaks my heart that the ninety-three year old woman is losing her library and will not be able to visit books, or other humans, or use up all her words. She, as much as any wide eyed child, is the very reason our libraries are so very essential. If we give up our libraries, the buildings and the books, we give up far more than real estate and bound paper, we give up the hearts and souls of our future.
My first thought, honestly, when I heard the news about the tsunami in Japan last Friday morning was about the dolphins in Taiji. I know that is probably not at all logical or practical and they’re dolphins, not humans.
If you have ever read this blog prior to today, though, you know that I’ve been an activist for those dolphins for quite a long while and I knew that the dolphin hunt was still in full swing, that the location of the Taiji cove meant that it was vulnerable to the swells from the tsunami waters and the aftershocks of the earthquake though it was well away from the actual epicenter.
Sadly, the news was not good.
Twenty-four dolphins that were being kept in sea pens in the cove died when they were thrashed against the rocky coastline by the swelling tides. I do not believe I need to share with any of you how I feel about this.
Obviously, it isn’t a time for more hate. It never is.
This is a time for all of us to come together, to help our human brothers and sisters however we can, to remember all the animals also affected by this crisis and to heal.
In whatever way calls to you to do so, I do hope you’ll extend your hand, your arms, your heart and help all of those who need it.
We are all one.