Villages & Faces

(written February 27, 2022)
Occasionally we’ll subscribe to some kind of streaming service, but most often Andrew and I just watch stuff on YouTube. Over the winter, I got really into watching episodes of a travelling Welsh couple. They bought a rickshaw and drove it across India. We were able to watch with interest but without jealousy because they were employing a much more labour-intensive, intimate method of travel than we would choose for ourselves.
Something that really stuck with me about their journey was the fact that they weren’t on any main roads. They were going very slowly through villages, interacting with the people they met. There was so much more human connection than those zipping along highways in enclosed vehicles.
This past winter, I read Apeirogon by Colum McCann. This book tells the wrenching true stories of two fathers — Rami who is Israeli, Bassam who is Palestinian — both of whom each lost a daughter to “the other side”. Tragic deaths, children caught in the crossfire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, Bassam and Rami tour together, sharing a message of peace. They don’t want revenge. They feel it would perpetuate violence forever. Peace is a way forward.
In the book, Rami describes the Israeli infrastructure which ensures Israelis never drive through Palestinian villages… where human interaction might take place.
This makes me stop and think about that couple on YouTube, making their way through villages in India.
I think these two points caught my attention and connected in my brain because of the notion of villages, and the importance of spending time in these villages. Both tell of what is lost when we bypass villages entirely.
Connection. Humanity. Maybe even understanding. Learning a bit about what’s important to these people and bearing witness to moments of their everyday life. Becoming part of one of the moments of their everyday life. And vice versa.
I think about my own village, my own community. I’ve taken joy in exploring its different shops and restaurants, rejoicing in the differences between each one.
For a time, there was a new question: What do I do when a business in my community takes a stand I do not agree with?
“Boycott” is an ugly word. And in a small community, it becomes an even uglier word. Looks pretty sinister on the page.
I’ve decided not to do it.
I guess I just figure this is a time to see even those we don’t agree with, as complex humans. And to remember what it is to be a village.
(Feature photo: I figured with such a title I should have a picture of people in the middle of the village where I live — but HOW? Then I found this pic Andrew took from the top of the ferris wheel at Summer in the City in 2019. I hear the festival’s gonna be back this summer!)