Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Way it Wuz- part 2

This is part of a 3 part series on why the past is better- in some ways. To be fair, it will be followed up by a 3 part series on why the present is better- just to keep it equally confusing for all. That's democracy.


Community is not a word that you hear much these days, unless it's used in the religious or suburban context. But it is something that we all need to survive. Humans were not made to live alone; indeed, it would be almost impossible for the species to survive that way, given that we need not just contact, but help. If you stop to think about who you would call if you had an accident at home or fell terribly ill, who comes to mind? It's usually family and rightly so. The sharing of genes is a good prerequisite for help, part of the preservation of the species. But what about those people who aren't lucky enough to have family, or those who don't have them nearby? This is where community comes in.

In the past, people could rely on religious communities, people from their church, to help them out. Floods of neighbours came over, armed with pies and casseroles when someone fell seriously ill or lost a family member. Some people now have community groups located in their neighbourhoods, not linked by religion, but geographical proximity and shared lifestyles. But outside of that, there's less and less community in the western world, and even, within it.

It's natural to think of family in a crisis, but maybe it's time to expand on that, if possible. More and more people don't have the luxury of staying all in one place, surrounded by family and other support units. These other support units actually need to exist in real neighbourhoods. It's time to bring back the concept of the good neighbour, the neighbourhood watch, the welcome wagon. Neighbours need to be more than that awkward hello at the mail box while you flip through your junk mail pamphlets. People need to actually get involved with each other, help each other and get involved in a type of community.

With the rise in condo living, less and less people are feeling attached to their neighbourhoods. Indeed, when these groups get together, it's often because there's a problem. The first time that I met my own neighbours in my condo building, it wasn't at a reception over food and drink; it was a town hall style meeting where we discussed vandalism on our common areas. Needless to say, it wasn't quite the meet and greet with the neighbours that I was expecting.

It's probably time we took an interest in one another, and not the creepy, staring into each other's windows with binoculars kind. We should reach out, talk and get to know each other and not stare directly ahead at the elevator buttons in silence when we meet. We won't have the communities of the church groups of yesteryear, but at least we'll exist in the eyes of our neighbours.

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