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  • Betty Girardeau

Can We Find Nirvana?


I had an unsettling experience yesterday when I was finally able to close a census enumerator case that had gone on far too long. The respondent, and he had every right to do so, and his family were counted, though he did not want to share much, if any personal data. I had to explain that I really was just working for the Census and that by being able to count him and his family, maybe his unpaved road might someday get paved, among other benefits of being census counted. He and his family were counted without actual names, going in as Person 1, Person 2, and Person 3. His big concern, which was where it became unsettling, was that he vowed that his mother had heard on the news that if Biden were elected President, he would move homeless people into their home in order to get them off the streets. I told him that was news to me, and did not argue about it. He said he was ready to pull out his gun and shoot anyone that would try to move some stranger into his home. And he was sure that if Biden were elected, that is exactly what will happen. How do these false statements become fact to people? I didn't know whether to feel sorry or very angry, or probably both. This is the first time on the job that I have personally encountered the political issues that are out there and which are creating deep divides because of fear and distrust. I am so worried about the future of our country. I have had a week of actual field work for the government. I have met a lot of wonderful people. I have seen people living in terrible conditions, barely making it. But in all cases they are good people trying to make the most of what they have tried to earn. I wish we could "farm" that goodness and become a country that is working together to better all of our lives and those of our children and grandchildren rather than spending useless energy creating fear and division. How do we create an atmosphere where we can talk to one another and not become defensive and argumentative? When on the job and these issues come up, I have to be neutral in order to create a sense of camaraderie so that I can get the occupants in a residence counted. But I wish I could gather together some of these folks I have met in something like a town hall where we can share what we know and think we know and come to a better place in the process. I am probably thinking of nirvana, the transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self. Well I can dream.

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