I bought a new rug. The former one, the one that occupied the place by the tan sofa in the family room was old. I bought it 25 years ago. Between dogs and kids it was badly frayed and the bottom was literally disintegrating. Oh, it smelled too. Like wet dogs who had caroused in the boggy woods on a hot summers day.
So yesterday, I went to World Market to buy some wine. They were having a discount, buy 3/ get one free. They have some yummy wine so I thought I would indulge. But as I entered the store I noticed a 25% sale off of rugs so I meandered over. And there I saw it…a caramelly jute rug embedded with threads of rust, sage and icy iron blue. Best of all it was 40% off! What a bargain! The hell with the wine…this rug is mine!
I took it home and laid it out on the floor and it looked delicious like peanut butter spread on toast. And as I inspected it I came across its tag of origin: India. And I wondered…who made this rug? Where in India do they live? How do they live their lives? Were they paid fairly for this work of art that I now possess? Do they wonder where it now lays?
As I thought about all of this it made me nostalgic. How sad it is that we no longer personally know the people who make most of the items in our house. There is no cobbler who knows the size of my feet and that I have a bunion on my left little toe. No longer could I find a knife sharpener/iron forger on my block. The butcher is employed by a big conglomerate now and an hour-long discussion about the best cut of meat for sauerbraten is a thing of the past. I have no idea where the nearest woodworker shop is nor a trusty mechanic with his own back-alley garage. I no longer know that Mrs. Tartini’s store sells the best brooms for the cheapest price. Where I live there is no neighborhood. No sense of community. No loyalty to Sam’s Welding because he lives on my block and I see him pushing his kids on their tricycles as they ride by.
I have come to realize that this is no way to live. Because a sense of community is important. It promotes trust, understanding, and consensus amongst neighbors. It brings as sense of place and security to those living together. Trust in our craftsmen’s work developes because we see what they do and how lovingly they do it over time. It’s those kinds of ties that bind us to one another and give life meaning but, unfortunately, so many communities today no longer have this. And its those personal ties to community which make police think twice about gunning down the people they are supposed to protect.
And so, as I look at my beautiful new rug, I wish I knew who crafted it. I wish I knew everything about them, and they about me, just to give us both a place in the world where we could interact because we are bound together by our shared humanity. A place where concern and understanding prevailed just because it feels good and right. I wish I lived in a community of love and concern…I wonder if the rug maker does too?