On visits to Chennai, I am reminded that life has limits. The water shortages of a decade ago have only gotten worse. Power cuts and failures, an event when I first came, are now routine. Fuel shortages come and go, rarely making headlines. While the resiliency of the people that call this home is a powerful testimony, I am struck by the fact that there is little to show as improvement after more than a decade of being aware of the problem. Things have not gotten better. By most measures, they have declined.
On one hand, I admire the grit and determination of the residents. Each in her/his way has simply got on with living. I can feel the hardness that comes from pushing through the challenges. Pride, confidence, and resiliency are characteristics that many share. You need it if you are going to survive.
I watched a group of women and a few young girls gather at a community hand pump to fill plastic container with water. Their smiles and later reflected a community that knew the joys of working together, sharing in the joys and challenges of raising kids, and facing life as it comes. There was no visible evidence that the burden was dominating anyone’s life. Each was getting on with what s/he needed to do.
There is a negative to survival. The expectation and hope that things can be better seems to be disappearing. Limits and shortages are more acceptable than ever. The idea that everyone can have running water at home is a luxury that could only happen someplace else.
I live where running water in everyone’s home is assumed. Fuel is always available. Power rarely, if ever, fails. The idea of shortages seems foreign to a resident’s thinking.
I find myself reflecting on an old promise. “God pays for each slave’s freedom; no one who runs to him loses out.” (Psalm 34.22) I can see the shortages slowly changing individuals. I also live in a community that rarely things about it. With the promise, I wonder if the two communities are different.