by Sara Swisher
I sat down with Leslie Barker one afternoon at Caritas Village. Pen in hand, I scribbled everything she told me down hoping to formulate an aspiring article. Leslie works with the Peacemakers, an after school art program at the Village.
"Caritas Village…" trying to contain her tears, "is one of the pure places left."
Through out the rest of the interview, I thought about that statement. I liked that idea; it intrigued me to think that I am working with one of the purest places left in Memphis, in Tennessee, in the United States of America, and in the world. I agree with Leslie. The Village is a pure place, full of people who love community and want to make a difference. But what does it mean for a place to be "pure"? In my investigation, I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defined "pure" as "not mixed with any other substance or material and free from contamination or physical impurity." Is the Village truly free from contamination
or impurities? Well let's define
an impurity; it is something morally unclean (OED). Could poverty, hunger,
loneliness, and addiction be impurities? I would argue that they are. Poverty
is morally wrong and no one should be subjected to it. The Village combats
poverty with programs such as a free health clinic on Tuesdays and free after
school programs like the Peacemakers (an after school program at the Village
ran by Theatre Memphis). The Village is filled with people who have experienced
poverty, hunger, loneliness, and addiction in some way.
Does this mean that the Village is impure and that it is in fact not one of the pure places left? I don't think so. I think the fact that the Village associates itself with those in proximity with impurities and tries to defeat the impurities themselves makes the Village pure. I think purity in this sense means mixing with the "contaminated", the Village mixes with contaminated because it craves to make a difference.
The Caritas Village Mission Statement:
To break down walls of hostility between the cultures, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor and to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.
There is no question that the Village is mixing with the adulterated of society. Hostility between cultures and the economic classes is definitely adulterated with hate, grief, and grudges.
The Village chooses to associate itself with that type of
impurity because it sees the purity of "breaking down the walls of hostility."
Defeating hostility brings peace, love, and trust. Not only does the Village
want to combat impurities but also create the pure. The Village makes itself
into "a positive alternative to the street corner for the neighborhood
children"; they want a pure and safe place for the children, free of impurities
of the street corner. They want to create an environment for growth and
learning and eliminate the boredom and vulnerability of the street corner.
|Leslie Barker helping a peacemaker.|
I see the pure when I walk into a restaurant full of smiling faces. The faces are different colors, believe in different gods, and come from different cultures. The pure is when a child is smiling when they show their mom what they made in the Peacemakers. I see purity when a child is eating a cookie their neighbor bought for them. The pure is when someone expresses their gratefulness to me on Facebook when I tell them the doctor will be in at the free clinic tomorrow. Caritas Village is the pure. I want to save the world. I want to live in Caritas.