Community

November 20, 2014, Prescott-  This evening will feature yet another speech by the current President.  Some things will change in this country, albeit temporarily, as happens with Executive Order- induced policy adjustments.  The whole affair, though, brings me to the matter of communities, large and small.

I have five basic observations:

1.  Charity begins at home- Mother instilled this in each of us, from Day 1.  Many people in this country are hyper-charitable.  It’s an admirable thing, when they have the wherewithal to give copiously.  I donate my time and money as close to the end receivers as possible, and as close to my own level of awareness of their situation as possible.  There will always be people in need, right in one’s neighbourhood, and there will always be people in need on the other side of the planet.  “The poor will always be with you.”  Everyone can share something, but few can give all that much.  My son is my top priority, then my family, then the community, starting in Prescott and working upward.

2.  A family, and a community, is only as strong as the level of trust between its members.  I live in a neighbourhood that is quite homogeneous.  There is, however, a high level of mistrust, especially among men aged forty and older.  Many of these men are carrying weapons.  I don’t pack heat, but I can sense the fear and tension from those who do.  Should there be a breakdown in order, many will opt for the quick response.  It won’t be pretty.

3.  This leads me to my own support system.  My Baha’i community, Prescott Save Our Schools, Slow-Food Prescott, American Legion Post 6, and the Yavapai County Red Cross are my local support groups.  Individual friends, both real-time and online, local and farther afield, offer additional back-up, and God knows I’ve needed it on several occasions.  Those who don’t have a human support system turn to self-medication.  This fuels the drug and sex trades, resulting in more misery across a wider area, and thus more human migration, both legal and surreptitious.

4.  Politics has been defined as the art of the possible.  For as far back as one can study, this has been taken to mean, the art of the powerful.  It is time, with social media and its attendant level of awareness, for power to move from the ground up.  Political extremists understand this, and have used it to their advantage.  The grassroots, however, mean that everyone matters, not just the loudest, the most devious or those with the deepest pockets.  Otherwise, what Pete Townshend wrote, in “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, will continue to be the norm:  “The parting on the left is now parting on the right”, and back and forth, ad nauseam.

5.  Character matters.  We have seen so many prominent people, revered by the masses, prove to have committed horrible acts against others.  Many will live in denial- Hitler still has his apologists, as do Mao Tse-tung, General Custer and Charles Manson. Others will subvert the misery of others for their own ends- which criminals have done since the Biblical Cain and Nimrod.  Each of us does, however, have the bounden duty, from our Creator, as we understand Him/Her/It to be, to “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  The Golden Rule has nothing to do with “He who has the gold, rules”.  As long as we are on the subject, though, it is worth remembering that every behaviour has its consequence, eventually.

The vast majority of people close to me are wondrous, loving and compassionate.  I work, daily, to be the same and it hasn’t always been easy.  It is, however, the only way I know to be.

4 thoughts on “Community

  1. Hi, Gary,

    I value your perspective of “community,” and over the years of my life, I have done volunteering, as you describe. Right now, my main focus is getting children’s classes started in Prescott Valley through being an assistant of the Baha’i Faith; and serving on the Yavapai County NAMI Board. My most recent past endeavors include being secretary on the Prescott Valley Community Garden Board for 1 1/2 years and serving for many years as secretary of the Prescott Contra Dance Committee and the NAMI Board. My latest endeavor is joining the Salvation Army Women’s League, which I was invited to participate in this week. That along with activating the college Baha’i Association next semester and hosting youth dinners in my home become my ways of reaching out to community doing things I believe in.

    I find comfort in your words about donating to causes. I was donating to KNAU, Grinnell College and the Baha’i Fund, and I recently cancelled my donation to the public radio station and went to the lowest amount for my alma mater. My Dad says organizations are looking for big donors anyway and that a monthly donation of $5 or $10 doesn’t make a difference. I often donate cash to individuals for their helpful service to me, because I do not feel it is right to expect my friends to support me, such as hairdresser and cleaning lady. I also try to support my cat’s needs which are donated to my close friend who now takes care of Magic.

    When difficulties happen in a community, like the Japanese tsunami or the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, or any catastrophe for that matter, people, human beings, pull together in a new realization of community forged by these fires of pain. Man’s higher nature triumphs. I must be there for my fellows as one who has practiced the skills of community-building. These times are the most treacherous for children and youth, and I hope to mitigate some of their problens as a listening ear and a wiser I hope older adult. Learning Spanish is my latest endeavor, helped both by literature given to me, TV and personal help from a Latina friend. Thank you for reminding me that “community” is the focus and highest personal goal of my life.

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