My time in a Ugandan village opened my eyes. My friend Matovu regularly invited elders of the village over to his house to share the family meal. There wasn’t enough food to go around. But there was always room for the village elder, Bumpenje, who was revered and welcomed with open arms. The family cherished his wisdom, which came from decades of village experience.
I remember Matovu’s stories about people who fell ill in the village and didn’t have the money for medical attention. Each time villagers offered what they could to get their neighbor medical help. The villagers of Wobulenzi, Uganda aren’t self-reliant or financially independent. They’re financially inter-dependent.
When I hear old timers in America talk about Depression days there’s a glimmer in their eyes. Charles Dickens’s epic phrase from A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” rings true for Depression veterans. Depression Era Americans relied on each other financially. There’s something about relying on one another financially that makes us spiritually rich.
A communal insurance policy as opposed to a corporate one brings out the best in people. When we realize our interconnection and interdependence in practical ways we’re less prone to treat each other as means to some professional end. In a community where we know one another and are known there’s no anonymity. Living in community makes us accountable.