Pulling Together

As time is passing, it’s becoming clearer and cleared that the economy is facing what will be a darker period than your average recession. Whether it will look like the Great Depression (or potentially be even worse) is something only the passage of more time will tell. That this will be a hard time for many in America (and the world) is no longer in doubt, however.

When adversity strikes, there are two responses: hunkering down, every person for themselves or working together as communities to soften the burdens. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it seemed like there was a lot of the first response as society broke down, and people increasingly relying on themselves for personal security. After 9-11, we saw the second response, as people pulled together, pooling resources, being more community-minded. Both responses are possible, both make sense in utilitarian terms. They represent differing views of the nature of humanity.

I want to challenge us in this time of difficulty to find ways to pull together. I don’t know what this would look like, exactly, and hope that you all might make some suggestions. I do have some ideas, however.

For those who can afford to do so, it would be great if we allowed those who owe us money as much leeway as we can. Give people the space to try to dig their way out of the holes they find themselves in, rather than making their debt to you something that deepens the hole. Obviously, we can’t all afford to do this. And those of us who can afford to do this may be limited in terms of when we can do it. Nonetheless, to the degree each of us can allow delay in the repayment of monies owed us, we help others.

I’d love to see us share whatever resources we have in excess of what we need/can use. As summer comes around, can those of us who garden try to give away more of our produce that might otherwise go to waste? Last year I had over a gallon of raspberries wither on the vine. I could certainly have invited friends to come over and make themselves welcome to them. How about informal community gardens, where those who have some extra land, but perhaps no time to cultivate it, let others, who may have been laid off, cultivate the land, producing food. I’d love to see us take the “Victory Garden” idea from World War II and refresh it for a new age.

And excess resources come in all forms. It can be time, skills, materials and who knows what else. Let’s figure out a way to share what we have, whatever that is, with others who need it. Let’s worry a little less about immediate payment for services, and  hope that by helping each other everything balances out in the end.

These are a few of my ideas, but I’m sure you all have more, and I’d love to begin the community building by having you share them in the comments below. Ideas are resources also.

As I said, there seem to be two basic human responses to adversity: closing the gates or opening the doors. The choices we make determine the type of society we live in. Let us use this challenging time as an opportunity to build a better world.