What We Are Losing: Community
Around the solstice and new year’s eve I spent a lot of time sitting with the question of what I want to create in 2014. This wasn’t a practical, strategic kind of exercise, but rather an inquiry into what sort of energies I am wanting to expand or invite into my life. I use a practice called focusing and also deep imagery to work with such questions. This helps me get out of my rational mind and allows guidance to come from a deeper, somatic place.
Something that kept coming up was the longing for more connection to others who share my values and my way of relating to the earth and its beings as sacred. Community. I am also seeing this longing mirrored back to me everywhere I look. Perhaps you feel it too?
I think it arises partly from a knowing that we’re losing this – our human genius for mutuality and collaboration. Our ability to band together and work for the good of the group is what has enabled us otherwise soft, frail creatures to survive and multiply. It’s something so basic to the human psyche, and yet we live in a culture that is systematically eroding it.
An overwhelming feeling of sorrow comes up for me when I see how it’s slipping away. So much about our way of life seems to conspire to keep us isolated. A friend who repairs appliances has a theory about this. He identifies two inventions that he believes have done the most to destroy neighborliness: the dryer and the garage door opener. Because we have dryers, women no longer visit over backyard fences while hanging out the laundry. And people don’t even step out of their cars anymore when departing or arriving, something very ordinary that used to provide the opportunity for neighbors to acknowledge one another, even briefly. Instead people just zip in and out of their homes, their cars like space shuttles docking in an airlock.
Technology is definitely part of this, but it’s more than that. As Charles Eisenstein says, the structures of our economy reinforce the role of humans as nothing more than isolated consumers. We use money to buy impersonal services from strangers instead of depending on and collaborating with the people around us. We no longer share or borrow or make things together. Instead of investing in relationships in our communities, we invest in the stock market (which doesn’t give a whit about any of us), and spend our time shopping.
I believe the same force that is devouring nature is also eating away at our humanity. In my last post I wrote about the way that it impoverishes our spirituality, our very consciousness. In the same way that it keeps us from connecting with the sacred earth, is also whittles away at our ability to connect with each other.
So I try to seek out small ways to connect to the flesh-and-blood folks around me – even if I’m not at all fond of some of them. But what my soul truly yearns for is connections with kindred spirits… people like you who are reading this. You are rare and precious in my world. Unusual. My hope for 2014 is that we’ll keep trying to find each other, and make our own communities.