Letter: Community is the answer

Published: 6/13/2019 12:01:24 AM

The June 6 editorial “You can be a builder of communities” makes an important point for these anxious times. Donald Trump’s troubling assault on our democratic institutions is an outcome of conditions that emerged before his demagoguery. Community, says Christopher Beha in the May 2019 issue of Harper’s, is one antidote for today’s “political monomania.”

Over my long career in the public sector I saw the slow slide from enthusiastic civic participation and robust church and social groups to indifference and isolation. The connectedness we falsely assume electronic social media provide, long work hours for two paycheck families and suburban sprawl have created the perfect storm for exaggerated individualism. Political polarization and disrespect that spawns everything from road rage to hate speech fill the gaps left by a receding sense of community.

It was hard to be angry with a neighbor’s barking dog when we enjoyed block parties, helped one another and met frequently at town events. Now, I only know a few neighbors’ names. Town groups have shrunk to the few who keep them alive.

The Monitor editorial highlighted examples of community-minded citizens. Beha’s remedy for today’s political bitterness is, as the editorial points out, a return to community. He tells us that supporting the arts, spiritual groups, social clubs and institutions promoting knowledge brings us together for purposes outside of politics, relieving some of today’s stresses and loneliness.

Summer is a perfect time to step out of the cocoon, meet people and enjoy shared experiences.



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