Posts tagged community
pioneering spirit

San Francisco has some of the best people watching in the world. Trust me on this one. A few days ago, I was sitting in a park wondering about the people nearby. There was the elderly couple, the clearly tourist family of three, the young man shopping his drawing prowess promising a picture in less than ten minutes and the religious missionaries on the corner sharing their message with anyone who would look up.

Unexamined these individuals look independent. And they are. But they are also much more than that. We spend our lives believing that what we do is our business and ours alone. Western culture, perhaps more so in the US, leads us to believe that we are living in the land of unconnected individuality. But it simply isn't true. It's a fallacy of the first order.

We are not solely independent individuals. We never were.

We are interdependent. Connected. Strengthened by ties, both visible and invisible.

And here's why - humanity's Pioneering Spirit.

Yep, that age-old cry to fulfill our fate. Often assumed as an individualistic ideal, it isn't really individual at all. It's a group effort. The pioneers (yes, I did just evoke the spirits of my ancestors), did not traverse the better part of what is now the US, alone. It was not an individual pursuit. Surviving the wilderness with a covered wagon and a rifle is not a task for one man or woman. It's a group effort. It's a neighborhood. A network that unites and rises to the task.

Now, of course, we can say that the pioneers lived such a long time ago and well, 21st century life is much different. It's a fair point. But the need for interdependence is not all that much different. Our desire to blaze new trails and build things of merit lives on. Our stories should not be lived alone.

Even Lewis had Clark. And Sacagawea.


Resilience is a Community Effort

This past week, the events of Boston, MA and West, TX and even the recent decline of my grandfather's health have reiterated one very vital thing for me. Resilience is a community effort.

Preparing alone, coping along, fighting alone - they are all myths of the first order. We do not fight an illness, a disaster, a bombing or anything else for that matter, alone. We fight it with our community. Perhaps not our neighbors directly, proximity is not what it once was, but certainly with our relationships and our network.

Technology has made it possible to see the world in near real-time. It has enabled my family to touch base time zones away during a scary time and it has allowed the world to watch with baited breath as Boston closed a city and West mourned the loss of their town. It's a dual-edged sword, technology. It provides vital connection, yet it can also cause rapid destruction. It's one of those agnostic mediums that requires outside direction to be positive or negative. Patton Oswalt, yes I am quoting the comedian, said,

"The vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will.'”

See here's the thing - when we use technology and our community connections to build goodness and fight off danger, we build resilience and strength. That act, the act of protecting what we value, brings us together, makes us stronger, helps us feel deeper, treasure our minutes and remember that even though a threat is near, it will not undermine our lives.