Lately, when I talk to peers about community I get the feeling that I'm getting a blank stare, as if no one really believes me in a realistic sense. As if community has been relegated to ancient wisdom and a mere cliche (thanks a lot, "it takes a village" Hillary).
It seems the skeptic in us, tells us that in order for community to be worth fighting for we need, as a prerequisite, a circle of all-loving ultimate-loyal friends. There's an assumption that historically, humans have had it easier -- as if to suggest that forming community was easy "back then" when everyone loved each other anyway.
Let's be clear -- community has never been an easy thing to achieve. And historically, it's not friendship that dictates the need for community, it's plain and simple self-interest.
So when people try and propagate the dichotomy of individualism versus communalism, it's a false one. See, community is an individualistic action. It is merely a proven system for maximizing the potential of the individual, if operated correctly.
It's not that community has failed to get the individual more, it's that the individual is being redirected from natural resource to artificial resource.
Therefore, the question is not "are we getting more in an individualistic society?" The question is, "what are we getting more of?"
For me the answer is simple -- our kids value Big Macs more than cows, ethanol more than corn, and buildings more than land.
Community will always be a struggle to build. Moreover, community has never been, nor will it ever be, a grand solution to all of the world's problems. History is clear; community is not savior, rather it is humbly the best option we have, our greatest hope -- each other.
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