How Strong Is Your Chain?

Four arms stacking hands

Written by Bruce Williams

Our lives are a sequence of events. People, places and opportunities are all linked together, just like the links in a chain. Every person we know is a link, everything we do and experience adds a link, places we visit are a link to the perspective we have on the place we call home. The world around us, our community, is made up of other people’s links. Those links support us, hold us together, support others and create cohesion in the world around us. It’s the order that creates our world.

So, by asking “how strong is your chain” I mean how resilient is your place in your community?

How resilient is the chain linking together the elements of the community where you live?

We see vulnerable links every day. The person with their hand or hat extended on the street in hopes of a kind offer of money. The person tucked into a doorway for a daytime sleep, because it’s not safe if you’re not alert and awake at night on some of our streets.

The tormented souls on our streets whose erratic behavior can provoke in us fear, pity, confusion, frustration, desperation and anger, often all within a few seconds of each other. They are a fragile link within the structure of our culture. There are so many more we don’t see, or their vulnerability and challenges are not visible. 

There are thousands of people in our region living in their home but living at or below the poverty line. Too many of them are children. The struggle in their world is crafted by factors that range from mental health, physical challenges, economic misfortune, fewer opportunities along their life’s path, or by those same issues impacting others who share their life. The vulnerability of their circumstance is palpable once you know their story. No-one chooses to live in those circumstances.


 How strong do you see their link within our collective culture?

How many steps are you from being in that same situation?

How about your family members, your friends, co-workers, your neighbours?

How many paychecks away from poverty?

How many bad decisions away from isolation or desperation?

Regardless of what your current prosperity may look like, how vulnerable are you?

If those delicate links are left untended and unrepaired, our community is at risk of weakening. The resources needed to manage it and the associated costs impact everyone’s links.

When decisions are made about philanthropy, about where you will donate or contribute money, how do you decide the reasons for that decision?

Those who know me know I consider those gestures to be investments, not just gifts. As with any investment you are looking for the highest possible return, often in the shortest amount of time. The return on your community investment is the outcome you get from investing in another human being. There is no greater, more valuable investment. That’s why it’s so important to make those investments. As with any other investment, chose wisely.

A wiser person than I said we should accept what we can’t change and change what we can’t accept.

Check your chain. Decide what links need some maintenance and get to work. Get some of your links to join you.

Imagine how strong this chain will become.

The Victoria Foundation’s Vital Signs report measures the city’s community well-being. Read the latest report here.

Image by Freepik.