There are reasons why safety and self-reliance are interdependent. And both depend on trustworthy neighbors. Local communities are where we have the most control and the most to lose. The neighborhood we live in, whatever it may look like, is where social problems become personal problems, where needs must be met, and where safety is essential.
When the going gets tough, our neighbors will matter to us. Many Americans are ignoring this reality of civilized life, and they do so at their peril. Today as the world unravels around us, we are confronted with necessity.
No longer can we depend on emergency services or well-stocked stores. No longer can we wait for someone else to do what needs to be done.
Self-reliance is a personal attitude and commitment. But it also depends on community. We need each other. Each of us is called to step forward, to build dependable relationships, to patiently encourage one another in constructive action.
Making things happen will mean listening to our neighbors and learning to cooperate. This is never easy to do and we are not used to it. We face a steep learning curve. But we can do it!
Necessity can only be met with initiative and steadfast patience. With a positive attitude and a readiness to persevere despite the bumps and bruises, we will prevail.
Safety comes with unity of purpose. It emerges gradually in working relationships that cultivate trust and meet common needs. Just as we learn by doing, so also do we earn trust—reaching out across differences of tradition, politics, and experience.
My forthcoming book will provide practical guidance to meet these challenges. This will include the means for creative decision-making in small groups. Aggregating diverse perspectives, interests and skills will maximize both safety and productivity.
Effective decision-making takes advantage of the knowledge and thinking of a diversity of perspectives and inputs.
If we listen to one another with inquisitive interest, drawing out every possible nuance, decisions will often produce more than anyone expected.
As I have often said, there will be no need to alter our values or views. Agreement will only be necessary concerning a common purpose or the problem at hand. In the process, however, we will come to know and better understand one another.
Dependable alliances and respectful collaboration can emerge where we least expect them.
Leadership will be needed of a certain kind, and this involves each of us. Responsibility for personal initiative falls to every person. It will be deeds and not words, giving and not taking, that create safety and move us forward.
The most effective leaders will be those who serve with quiet restraint and minimal drama. At the end of the day, the best leader might not even be noticed—because the community will know that “we did this ourselves”.
Citizens who have experienced trust, who understand moral responsibility and constructive action—and who recognize the very high stakes involved—will build these foundations.
What is essential is that Americans stand together selflessly, making firm our commitment to such values as will secure the future, and contribute to a free and just nation.
We must refocus our vision with such strength of purpose that partisan politics is powerless to subvert or degrade our intentions or integrity.
You may watch for the next post on or about January 31.
A note to readers: An introduction to the coming book and several sample chapters are available in draft at the top of the homepage. Please take note of Chapter One: American Crucible.