On Friday, August 19th, the Fiji Times carried a brief news story about how some local governments in Fiji are dealing with the need to reduce expenses. As in California, the central government in Fiji has been cutting back on monies provided to local governments, forcing the local agencies to make some tough choices. Schools, infrastructure, and other governmental expenditures are all in competition, and as funding cuts occur, tough choices are required.
In the district of Tavua, funerals have included a series of mourning rites continuing for 10, 20, or 30 nights, and sometimes more, and the death of one person would result in mourning costs of approximately $5,000. New protocols have been instituted, with community support. As reported by the newspaper, "the idea of the new change is to save money to be used on projects such as education or other development projects that will benefit family members or the community as a whole."
This story is interesting in and of itself. What is perhaps most startling, however, is that the expenses associated with mourning the death of an individual within the community are so clearly recognized as a "community" responsibility. This reflects a culture that recognizes that "we" are not just a collection of individuals, and that the community itself is properly charged with responsibility for each and every one of us, in life and in death.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
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