Monday, September 19, 2011

A Middle Way

I have promised that I was going to be doing more opinion writing here. This is the first installment.

We have reached a point in society where we have institutions that are too big to fail. This is not to say that these institutions are incapable of failing. The last few years of economic turmoil have taught us this. However these institutions are so thoroughly integrated into our notion of normal everyday life that if they did collapse we would have to drastically change how we do everything else.

With the hardships and tribulations brought about by tough economic times it can often feel that individually we are too small to succeed. The rich have the money. We do not. The companies have the resources. We do not. The lobbyists have control of the government. We do not.

So here we stand in the fields just outside the township of the world as we know it looking at the slowly teetering giants held in place by rickety scaffolding. We are waiting for them to fall and crush our homes. We feel powerless to do anything to stop it.

However, there is a middle way, a path between the dangerously large and the ineffectually small. At the heart of this middle way is the community, both the communities created by common interests and those created by shared locality. Communities understand what it is they need, what problems they face and through discussion they can find solutions to deal with them.

There is a major road block along the middle way. It is not alack of resources. People who truly want to solve problems will find the tools necessary to solve them. It is not a lack of intelligence. The people on the street know where their suffering comes from. What it is, is fear. Fear keeps us from knowing our neighbor, from building a sense of community and from shouldering their burdens as our own. We have to be taught by shootings and kidnappings, by gang violence and by Kitty Genovese that our neighbors do not care about us. This is what needs to change.

The only place this can change is in our own hands and in our hearts. The way we treat our neighbors, the moments we take to stop and chat on a street corner, the sharing of joy and pain are the way we build community. It is not alright to wait for others to reach out to us. We bear the same responsibilities to act that they do.

When we have communities that are willing to work together to solve their shared problems, we have people who can change the world. Communities trusting their small local banks can reduce the impact of large corporate banking entities, the ones that are too big to fail. Communities who know their local elected representatives can have a voice equal to the lobbyists. Communities that look out for each other may not be rich but they will be able to meet there needs.

We can stand and watch the giants fall or we can turn to our neighbor and start building a new world.


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