Part of my job is counselling people. It is easy to think that this is separate from community building, but it need not be I hope and think. In the counselling room people ideally get time to think about their lives. They get a chance to consider new ways of doing things, and to plan for change. They get listened to and encouraged and hopefully a sense of being understood, and not being alone with their struggles.
When things go well, you see them making the changes they think about. They cancel credit cards, take charge of their relationships, they get out of violence, they go for walks with their partners, they think about having children or not having them. They think about study. They do study. They get work or give it up.
Sometimes it is hard too. People feel suicidal, they are hooked in to disrespectful or violent relationships, they have been hurt in their lives and find it hard to live well in the aftermath. But even in these situations, there is often balm in having someone listen and care, someone who has high regard for them even when they don’t themselves.
We hear things that people often don’t talk about, and it is an honour. It is scary sometimes and a responsibility always, but folk are so wonderful so often, that it is also restoring and renewing. Part of changing the world is listening to people, making space for us all to work out our troubles and our dreams for a just, decent, hopeful world. A world where we can all take our place.