This opening part is going to sound like I'm whining. I'm not. It's just the set up. Please bear with it.
- A couple of years ago, part of the houses (about 6) on the street on which I live lost power. Nobody else in town lost power as far as I could tell. Gas was pumping, groceries store were opening, everyone else was going about their normal life. And I wanted to say, "Hey I don't have power. You can't go about you normal life while I can't". Followed by the thought, 'I wonder how often I am oblivious to those without power as I go about my normal life'.
- Last October, we were hit by that early snowstorm and most of the area was without power. Gas didn't flow. Grocery stores didn't open. Over time power was restored. But my little street was one of the last to have power restored. We were among the last 1% of customers who received power eleven days later
- With Hurricane Sandy, while not as bad as the storm of the previous year, we were among the 60 last costumers to receive power after four days without.
It would be easy to turn this into a pity party. But that is not what this is about. There are way worse things happening in the world. And the offers we received for showers, hot food, and warm spaces were tremendous.
But these events got me thinking about who gets the power - when the power goes out who gets restored first and who gets restored last. Who decides? Which street? Which businesses? Is it better to take care of a neighborhood of one hundred homes or a street of six homes? I get that it is important that hospitals, police and fires stations, schools, and stores are a priority. But after that, is there a priority system
- is it by size?
- is it by how much work it will take?
- Is it by whom you know?
Is there protocol? A plan? Or is it random? I would guess that there is a plan.
Being last three times doesn't seem random. Which got me thinking.
What protocol do we use when we (corporately or individually) help those without other types of power - those without access to clean water, those who are hungry, those without shelter, those who live in places where they are oppressed?
- Do we decide by size - trying to impact the greatest number of people?
- Do we decide by how much work it will take - can we solve the problem or will we make a dent, is giving money enough or do we need to roll up our sleeves?
- Do we decide by how well we might know someone - charity begins at home or impacting someone who will never get a chance to say thank you to us?
Every decision the power company made to repair one area impacted another area. Every decision we make to help impacts someone else.
My experience with the local power company suggests that the least of these (an area of six houses) is a lower priority. How do we factor the least of these when we make decisions? Do we have a plan? Protocol? Priority?
How do we decide who gets the power?
How do you decide?