Imagine you could rid the Earth
Of anyone you choose
Which ones would you need the most
And which ones would you lose?
Do we want to judge another
Lest we be judged too?
Careful now… The next one might be you
–Prince, Planet Earth
So, I sit here – trying to figure out what to write for this particular blog post. There’s a hundred, million things swirling around in my thoughts. “Being scared of politics” — well, not really that one. That’s more a private joke these days than anything else. But there are lots of other things swirling around in here. As is my typical method for writing – I put iTunes into a random rotation, and let it pick something to color my aural landscape. What I get is the above Prince song that I have quoted from. Because it has touched on something that is becoming a stronger voice in my ears: community. Plus, the song touches on aspects of taking care of our environment, another cause I am hearing louder and louder with every day.
Looking at Community From Another Angle
Community is an interesting concept, so much so – I have written about it numerous times here in the blog. But community isn’t just about identifying with a group of people over belief, politics, hobbies, or even the geographical area that you are living in. Its about connections. Its about relationships. Its about inclusion. Its nearly the opposite of our modern society.
Take, for instance, my local community. I live on a block of houses that totals five down my street, and three more on the opposite side of the block. Eight houses total. That’s not including the houses directly across the street from me. Just the houses right here. Remove me from the equation – that’s just seven houses….or if you will, seven families. I have been here right around seven years in this house. In all that time, I have had direct contact with only three of the families here. The neighbors on either side of me, and the family immediately to the other side of one of these neighbors (the other lives on the corner). In seven years, I have spoken to all three of these families – right around a dozen times. Total. The other families, I would never know who they were, if they passed me in the frozen foods aisle at Wal-Mart.
Its not from a lack of trying to talk to these folks. We are all friendly enough to one another to wave an acknowledgement of our existences to one another. But that’s as far as it goes. Granted, I live in what is termed a “commuter town” in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. People who live here generally work elsewhere – so they spend their time driving to work, or in some instances, taking the train to and from work. The majority of their time is spent with co-workers. On weekends, there is the obligatory maintenance of our respective yards, and then into our routines of spending time with loved ones and the friends that we don’t see during the week. In other words, we cherish our weekends and holidays to spend with the people we consider to be our “community” — our friends, and relatives. Individuals whom we choose to spend our time with. The people that live around us? They just “happen” to live near us.
Then there is the time-suck fashion of the internet. Its an awesome tool for closing the distance between us and family that are geographically living a distance from us. Or connecting with friends who live in another part of the world. We can spend time chatting via text, or over a video connection – catching up on one another’s lives – reconnecting with our chosen community members who just don’t live close enough to visit on a whimsical weekend.
So, we have what has become the modern-day aspect of a community. Let’s remember, this doesn’t describe EVERY community, but can be utilized to describe many aspects of what has become a modern community within today’s society. We’re not just disconnected from one another. We’re also disconnected from our environment, from the plight of our planet. Take, for example, the political football that Global Climate Change has become. We have individuals that say that its a “myth” – something that is just made up from whole cloth in order to bilk people out of their monies as donations to help support the cause come in. On the other hand, there are those that point to climate data to support their assertions. This leads to the opposition raising their tone to drown out the other side. And the other side increasing their volume and urgency to offset that from the opposition. In the end, we wind up with a lot of yelling, point-counter-point silliness — and nothing gets accomplished.
Breaking For an Opinion
I do have an opinion on this — and so I don’t get accused of not providing my opinion. I shall do so here. I’m no scientist, but I am a numbers-cruncher and an analyst in my mundane job. I can look at the data that is provided and see the trends that are pointed out. By both sides. However, I do not blindly believe one side over another. If I did, I would already have told you to ignore the climate-change-deniers. However, I’m not that person. I don’t believe either of the data models provided. By either side. I would honestly like to see what data was thrown out of the study by both sides, where the raw data is, and have a quick look for myself. Being someone that observes the weather on a regular basis, I would submit that the wild weather fluctuations are something that provides inference that the Climate Change is a problem. How far mankind goes into contributing to that – and mankind DOES contribute to some of the changes, its just a question if its 5% or 500% or anywhere between or beyond – that’s not something I can endorse one way or another without seeing the raw stats. SO, to provide it in a single statement: I do believe that Climate Change is a real issue facing our combined populations on this planet. I am sure that if we take the appropriate steps to reduce carbon emissions, we can help bring this issue to something more “normal”. I also believe every day we wait, the longer it will take for human kind’s efforts to reverse the extreme intensity shift we have been watching happen. In other words, I am not all that interested in ascribing blame. I’m more interested in what we – as a population – can do to bring balance back to our environment. We are, after all, only now beginning to understand how we affect our environment through our interactions.
Back to the Point
We all talk about making a “community”. We want like-minded individuals. We want to be inclusive – of Pagans and Pagan friendly folks. We want those who believe in building a utopia of our thoughts. No monies. Barter and trade for goods and services. Removal of capitalist structures that we deem to be “evil”. Why do we oppose these things? Because each provides “power” to a select few. We exclude those things that we believe to be evil or bad — we will kick Christians, and Muslims to the curbs because neither can spend time with others without starting to wars to eradicate those that don’t believe as they do. They exclude others. Isn’t that we’re doing here? Excluding Christians and Muslims based on the actions of others in the near and distant past that may or may not practice the same Christianity and Muslim faiths of the people we have before us.
Do we want to judge another
Lest we be judged too?
Careful now… The next one might be you
Making a Community is Messy
Let’s be realistic and honest here. Making a utopian community can be done. If you are willing to build the walls, man the gates, prepare to fight off the hordes of “undesirables” that do not conform with what you want. But is it really necessary to build all of this from scratch again? The under-pinnings are already here. We have our desired “chosen” communities. Perhaps, we need to find a way to integrate some of those “chosen” communities back into how we interact with everyone else. Rather than building up walls to keep our “chosen” communities free of what we term as “riff-raff” – we can find ways to interact and communicate with folks of different faiths, ideologies, backgrounds….and locate our common ground. Or as Rage Against the Machine reminds us:
How long? Not long, cause what you reap is what you sow
Time to cultivate common ground. And see if we can provide a crop that gives the power to the have-nots.
One thought on “United We Stand — When There’s Common Ground”
I really like what HH the Dalai Lama says about inter-religious dialogue, and I think it can be applied to communities as well. Basically, he says that in order for us to grow closer, we can’t aim for a universal religion–that will never work. Instead, we are to realize the similarities between each differing belief/ideology…but perhaps more importantly realize the differences. We are to celebrate those differences. When we do so with an open mind, we’re not trying to convince one side of the other, but just sharing in the beauty and value of the innumerable differences. It’s a profound idea.