Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Community values

There was a time in the dim past, before many of today's adults were born, that people lived in communities. Not just the physical community of one house next to another; but a community in which people knew and cared about each other; and in which people volunteered time and materials to make improvements for the general good. Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, documents how this spirit of community was one of the great strengths of the young American republic. Community existed, not only in rural areas and small towns, but in the ethnic and traditional neighborhoods of large cities.

Charlie Earl, in two posts of his littlestuff-minoosha, contrasts between the community spirit he remembers as a child, that built a high school football stadium; and how government very nearly destroyed the spirit of another community when a women's group was trying to build a toilet facility along a hiking trail.

With a few exceptions, this spirit of community no longer exists. The automobile has helped to isolate the family from its neighbors. Trust between neighbors no longer exists. This isolation has been encouraged by years of governmental policies; especially those well-intentioned policies of doling out money to people in need, so that people now depend on the government instead of on each other.

The only way to maintain a sustainable society is to rebuild the kind of community we used to have. I am not saying this out of nostalgia; but because I see that it will soon become very necessary to our survival.

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