Bringing Back A Lost Sense Of Community
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Bringing Back A Lost Sense Of Community

The more we try to connect, the more disconnected we feel.

Bringing Back A Lost Sense Of Community

It’s interesting the places a mind can wander when faced with long hours in a car. As I’m sitting here watching the scenery fly by, cars and cacti (courtesy of Arizona landscape), I can’t help but wonder at the people driving those cars. The people in the backseat. What’s their mission? Where are they headed – and what kinds of conversations are taking place behind closed windows and full-blast air conditioning? Everyone’s got a story, everyone’s going somewhere to do something.

The thing that’s struck me, though, is the total exclusiveness of it all. Conversations with strangers are few and far between, and often are only inspired by a shared misery (like waiting in a long line) or some other superficial circumstance. We live separate lives, drive separate cars, have separate problems, and have separate reasons for keeping to ourselves.

Remember the days when there was a sense of community around? When people cared about each other? When communities worked together and there were planned get-togethers and neighborhood sports events?

I don’t.

For as long as I can remember, everyone has been pretty caught up in their own lives, and with the rise of the online age, it’s gotten exponentially worse. As we all become more connected online, we become more disconnected offline. Cars continue to drive by, each person in their own world – and nobody seems to care. Gone are the clam bakes, gone are the dances and the balls.

I’ve grown up reading stories in history classes of communities gathering at one house to share in the excitement of a new phonograph or a new TV. Gatherings to celebrate the first one purchased on the street… or crowds watching “I Love Lucy” episodes on one shared TV. Nobody would even think of that nowadays... because who cares? Most people have their own complete home-theater system with the newest upgrade and model available at their fingertips. The shared excitement for other people and their accomplishments has diminished.

Nostalgia for a sense of life I’ve never known hits intermittently. People used to trust each other more. People used to laugh more. People used to care more. It seems as though we’ve traded trust for cynicism and short tempers, laughter for tears and anger, and empathy for apathy. With such feelings so abundant, it’s no wonder we’ve lost our sense of community. How could community coexist with such strong toxic emotions? It’s so much easier to hide behind closed doors, only venturing out as far as necessity demands. It’s more time efficient to never ask strangers what they’re passionate about. It’s safer to never put our hearts on the line for people that may hurt us. And… it’s cheaper to never buy coffee for the person in line behind you with the screaming child. Let’s face it: life is easier when we never have to make an effort or do uncomfortable things. Life is easier when apathy is dominant. But are we better off for it? Probably not.

Yet, as I write this, memories start to flood my thoughts between the words as I type. I know the idea of community is not an unreachable notion. I’ve seen it in passing glimpses. I’ve seen it in Zumba classes and Fourth of July firework picnics. I’ve seen it in the brave neighbor who asks the family next door for a cup of flour. I’ve seen it in strangers taking the time to help a struggling citizen, or in churches reaching out to their communities – in love. I’ve even seen it in Pokémon-Go as strangers from all walks of life with seemingly nothing in common relate to each other and bond. I’ve seen it. Perhaps the lost community – is hiding in plain view. Perhaps it isn’t so hard to bring it back. Perhaps all it takes is a little bravery and a little initiative. If we stopped waiting for someone else to make a move, plan an event, start a conversation – if we stopped waiting, the change could transition from idea to reality.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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