Human civilization has deep historical roots, and stories that teach us of both its values and its failures. But, are we in danger of losing it? Civilization does not wait for other people to “do something”. It does not depend on government, or on “leaders” who promise to save us. And, if we allow hotheads to tear civilization down—out of fear or foolishness—it could be centuries before it might be rebuilt.
Surely we know a free and prosperous society can only be sustained when we take responsibility for it. Civilization depends on each of us to take action in our own communities.
Freedom requires responsibility. This is a personal choice, and it can only express itself in action. There can be no safety, no problem-solving, and no accountability without cooperation.
Everything we need and everything we do depends on some form of cooperation.
We all need to live in a place where our neighbors and fellow citizens cooperate in ways that keep us safe and make things work.
Reclaiming the future will require a willingness to work with our neighbors to meet shared needs and resolve local problems—despite our differing values and views. This has always been what America is about.
It will take energy and a positive attitude to get us there.
The way forward is challenging because we need to understand the people around us, and to have the patience and forbearance to bring them along.
Working with other people can be one of the hardest things we ever do. Our differences come from differing life experiences and personal hardships. Yet we share many of the same hopes and fears.
What makes cooperation possible? How different are we, really? Everyone needs to feel safe, and we all need to believe in the future.
We need to learn how to be good listeners. We have talked about this here before. Most of us are used to listening for reacting and arguing. This is not practical if we want to live in a safe community.
How then should we listen? If we want to work well with others it is necessary to actually understand them. There really is no alternative.
Understanding does not require agreement. No way! Understanding allows us to know our neighbors and to negotiate effectively.
When we open lines of effective communication, it becomes possible to make decisions involving specific needs. It opens the door to constructive action.
There will always be some who refuse to cooperate. We can expect this. So, why should we try to help neighbors who see no purpose in engaging with us?
Why? We are living in a society that is coming apart. The dangers are real. Institutions are crumbling. Mental health is breaking down. Fear and confusion reign.
The effort to make communities safe will encounter many who are distrustful. Safety requires that we stay connected with them.
However, there will also be thinking people who care about the future. We need to find them. We might need to look under a few rocks, but they are nearby—wherever we are.
And we must take action. We cannot wait.
We need to know all our neighbors, and to maintain friendly relations to the best of our ability. In a crumbling social order, we cannot afford to live with alienation next door—not down the street or around the corner.
Humanity is discovered through authentic dialog. Safety is gained through cooperation.
Nothing will happen if we sit on our hands.
Please note: You may watch for the next post on or about March 1. An introduction to the forthcoming book, and several chapters are available at the top of the homepage.