Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jeremy Jaeger

Raised and Returned (July 17)


Courtesy photo

Raised and Returned

I had one of those moments last night, wherein something taken for granted comes to life again before your eyes, and you realize that it’s a precious gift, and not at all something to assume as natural and given, and I thought: My word, thank goodness for the existence of the Public Broadcasting System, otherwise and more commonly known as PBS.

The particular program which endowed me with this sense of gratitude was a two hour-long retrospective look at the Tiananmen Square protest movement in Beijing in 1989, 30 years afterwards. I’d imagine that most Courier readers are familiar enough with the events of Tiananmen. It’s a tragic, awful story. A blooming hope for self-governance, crushed by military force, by fire and brutality and bloodshed.

It’s a very instructive and important historical moment, and one that, in Chinese history textbooks, of course, never happened. Because there’s no PBS in China. Because there’s no organ of journalism and communication in China, whose mission is to report the facts and tell the truth. If someone in China says, “Hey, in 1989 our army opened fire on a bunch of our citizens who were engaged in a peaceful assertion of their right for free speech,” then the government responds by saying “Fake news!”, and then throws that person in jail.

Considering all this made me think more generally of things we take for granted. I recently spent some time volunteering with Community Food Share, formerly of Niwot, now over in Louisville, working in the big warehouse which operates as the distribution center for almost every agency or program in Boulder County that delivers food to those in need.

The two things that made an impression on me were the scale of the operation, and the extent to which it’s supported by volunteerism. The size of the warehouse, the amount of food coming in and going out; there is clearly a sizable population in Boulder County that depends on CFS for their literal daily bread. And while CFS does have some paid staff, the great majority of their work is performed by a small volunteer army.

Without CFS, that sizable local hungry population goes un-fed. Without a healthy community ethic of volunteerism, CFS doesn’t exist. Lacking freedom of the press, Chinese citizens don’t know the truth of their nation’s history.

The institutions in this country that protect our freedoms, and work for the well-being of our local communities, are a beautiful set of institutions. They are also under duress in this contemporary moment, of fake-news and widening social divisions. Life in Niwot is a charmed life, and the larger world can seem far away.

But it’s right there, on our doorstep. Everything we enjoy about life in this country and in this local community was built over many years, by many intentional hands. It’s important to remember to feel grateful, and to remember to not take these things for granted.


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