We have choices to make. They might differ from the choices we are used to thinking about, but these are not normal times. Indeed, it appears the challenges before us are likely to worsen before they get better.
Faced with crises and instability we turn our attention to safety. And, our local community is where that needs to happen. Shall we strengthen dependability with our neighbors and build supportive relationships, or pretend that every day will be like the last?
When the world is breaking down and hardship grows, we can always find common cause with our neighbors. We need people in our lives who have the practical knowledge and skills to help resolve local problems – whatever their politics or religion or the color of their skin.
This is a choice that calls for wisdom and initiative. Common sense, really, but the first step is always ours to take. The road to security is built with civility and paved with trust.
Building community can be hard work, but it is the only certain protection from calamity.
Conflict is natural in relationships, yet differences can only be fully understood and surmounted in and through relationships. It is in the work on interpersonal relations that direct and honest communication can take place.
The means for making this fractious process possible and effective in America is the subject of this blog and my forthcoming book. Yet, it will not succeed unless we believe it is worth the effort.
Some may say it’s too late. I say that Americans are courageous, resourceful, resilient. The United States was conceived in controversy; and the vision of the Founders came with recognition that wisdom and strength are found in diversity.
Indeed, it is argued here that diversity is the foundation for strength, and that the United States Constitution is a visionary assertion of this belief.
The Founders gave us a structure. It is our responsibility to make it work.
We are confronted today by one of the great tests of American history, a challenge to the intent embodied in the Constitution and the coherence of a vision that has been gradually maturing for more than two hundred years.
Perhaps we have lost our way at times, stumbled, gotten sloppy. But now it is time to pull together. It is argued here that we must begin in our local communities – the historic home to democracy and the seat of civilization.
Stability cannot be imposed from above in a free society. The kind of strength we seek is grounded in trust and dependability in personal relations. This is the nature of genuine community.
I am not talking about a “recovery” from crisis in the normal sense. Rather, I submit that we stand at the threshold of an unprecedented turning point – a crossroads that offers a unique window of opportunity for Americans to affirm and uphold our exceptional and multifaceted identity as a nation.
In navigating through an extraordinary confluence of crises we will be forced to renew our values, think on our feet, and make both pragmatic and ethical adjustments.
A creative process is now underway that would not be possible otherwise.
We need to assess our shared values and rethink the generosity of spirit that once made America so attractive to the world.
If American communities are to emerge into a vibrant matrix of local and regional networks, they will depend on citizens with diverse skills and varied perspectives, people who are capable of teamwork and practical problem-solving.
Resistance to diversity is often caused by discomfort with those who look or think differently, or who come from unfamiliar cultural backgrounds. Yet, in crises it is differences in perspective that allow effective problem-solving. We cannot afford to do without this.
You should feel confidence in your own ideas and values. Yes, but why should we be afraid to hear and understand different ways of thinking?
The strength in calm composure brings us clear mindedness and the ability to listen well.
The opportunity to explore the world through the eyes of those different from ourselves is a blessing and a gift. And, in the event of social collapse it may be the key to survival.
A note to readers: You may look for the next post on or about February 26. New readers can find a project description, an introduction to the coming book, and drafts of several chapters on the homepage. New chapters have recently been added, including one on Freedom and Individualism.
All U.S. citizen’s only common interest is written in the ratified 1788 U.S. Constitution.
I agree. It seems to me that cell phones & social media have interrupted our face to face interactions with each other. Without that face to face contact our society has taken a turn for the worse. Hate is on the rise. Communities are no longer gathering for a common purpose such as community meals, celebrations or work parties to accomplish a common goal. Service clubs & fraternal organizations have dwindling numbers. I see Church attendance significantly decreased in my location. Church dinners & celebrations no longer draw a crowd. Where have all of the joiners gone? Are they all getting old & dying off without younger people to replace them? These people were the glue that held our society together & I see it falling apart before my eyes.
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We need to get back to basics such as truth, integrity & justice. These are values that should & can be strengthened in our local communities. We need to choose leadership that reflects our values. We have strayed from these basics. Shakespeare…Polonius: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Pat. I hope others respond. Tom
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