“In our eagerness to work for the alleviation of suffering, for peace and justice in the world, we sometimes try to leapfrog over our own situation…”

So begins the anthology Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism. There is also a tendency to leapfrog over issues faced by our local community. For me my “local” community at the moment is a city of over 8 million, and the issue that has been bothering me lately is the proposed budget cuts to the New York (which services the boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island), Queens, and Brooklyn Public Libraries. Libraries are such important community centers especially for job seekers, teenagers, and English-learners. They provide a safe and quiet refuge for city residents much in need of a break from the hustle and bustle. In addition they help us from spending money needlessly or abusing resources by buying new books or films, as Susan Moon mentioned in her “Stop Shopping” article.

The proposed austerity measures would mean the layoff of hundreds of library workers, the closure of almost a hundred community branches, and the immediate shutdown of English language and literacy programs. The Dalai Lama, during his recent visit to New York, emphasized the importance of learning. Now a service that helps aide people to expand their mind and the breadth of their learning is being threatened on my watch. It is an opportunity to put into practice my ability to be engaged on a local level.

What is happening in your community that you are concerned about? Have you gotten involved?

It is the last week to help. To support one of the New York City public library systems click on one of the following links: Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Painting by Holly Farrell. See more of Holly’s paintings here.

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