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Sense of community

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I spun this from one of Beavah's posts but it could have come from others I think. In that post Beavah made statements about our sense of- and the need for- communities:

"In the real world, we specialize, eh? Most folks can't set up their own phone system, repair their own computer or refrigerator, etc. So we pay professionals to do those things. That's one of da things that makes communities stronger, and advances civilization - relying on each other. Same with contributing to a common, professional police force, and a common, professional military. That way we don't have to all spend one day a week in militia drills. We get both a more effective common defense, and more personal freedom."


I could just as well have picked any number of related statements because community is a theme that has been emphasized many times in our discussions, and not just in Issues&Politics.


As Trevorum and others, I think, will confirm, this specialization that Beavah mentions began about 10,000 years ago with the shift to agriculture and the resulting increase in human population size. There are all kinds of efficiencies that rapidly developed, especially after the industrial revolution.

But there seems to be some lack of agreement about what 'community' is or should be. In this thread, I'd like to ask what everyone thinks about 'community'. Are there contradictions that affect what we would recognize as social issues of the day: gay marriage/mambership, immigration, religious freedom, taxes, etc.

Is there a 'rugged individualism' in society that is in conflict with an 'interdependent community'?

To me there seems to be. I can even detect this conflict within my own thoughts. My love of solitary travel and outdoor experiences is perhaps an expression of my illusion of rugged individualism, for example. It obviously doesn't fit with the strong sense of community that I engage in when, for example, I engage in my daily ritual of early morning good deeds for several elderly neighbors, most of whom strongly disagree with me on many social issues. It is a sense of community that holds our 'mini-society' together and keeps us all caring for each other - a stark contrast with my desire to have absolutely no one care about my fate when I'm in the backcountry.

Anyway, whether you get my idea or not, I'm interested in your thoughts.

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I think this is the most fundamental of all philosophical questions - where do we draw the line between our own selves and our community. And I don't think there can be one answer, because all of us different when it comes to our need for community and our need for space.


So I think a decent society needs to find a way to accomodate, and not force everyone into one bucket. There are people who are profoundly miserable if they are not allowed to stretch, the strive, to take risks and seek rewards. These people are okay with the risks and with accepting high degrees of personal responsibility. There are other people though who are profoundly miserable if they are forced to take those sorts of risks, forced to take more responsibility that they want. Uncertainty is far more painful for this second group than for the first. Forcing either type to live totally in the other's world is frankly cruel. It's inflicting emotional torture on them.


So we need a society that can accomodate both. The challenge is that each type tends to hate or resent the other. People who desire less risk and more certainty tend to look at the adventursome ones with fear. They worry their crazy neighbors will do something bad. "Why does he have to have that scary gun?" for instance, is a typical worry. Further, they are prone to the human vice of envy when the entrepreneur takes risks and reaps the rewards. "Why should he have so much money?"


For their part, the adventursome ones can be dismissive of their society-minded peers as, well, cowards. Unmanly. "Sheeple" is a common term. And they can also resent what the risk-averse take from society, thinking they haven't earned it, aren't pulling their weight.


Both groups think the other is broken or wrong. But they're not. They're just people with different levels of comfort for taking risks, different levels of need for community. Everybody needs some community, but some people need much more of it to be happy. Everybody needs some freedom, some need far more to be happy.


Personally I say to each his own, let each of seek the level of comunity we desire, and be accepting of the differences.

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Yah, hmmmm...


Well, I certainly share packsaddle's split thinkin', eh?


In my day-to-day life, I very much enjoy da company of friends, family, and colleagues. I appreciate and respect and value all of the various folks who have more talent than I do in all kinds of areas, because we can accomplish good things together. As I've grown older, I'm more willing to pay for expertise or support from others so that I have more time to do what I'm best at. Unless it's a hobby that I just enjoy tinkering with myself, for fun.


When I'm in da woods, I prefer solitude. It's my break from da press of regular life, and I like to be on my own. Oh, yah, sure, I also enjoy sharin' my woods with the boys (and girls) in scoutin', but that's a hobby. Otherwise, I'm content to be alone with God's wilderness. In fact, I find I need it. That's more a spiritual and enjoyment thing than a need for risk-takin', but like packsaddle I'm perfectly comfortable with da risks I take and I prefer to have no one fret about my fate when I'm in da woods. For me I think that's da second half of community though, eh? That time recharges me and let's me shake out da silly stuff, so that I come back as a better community member. In fact, Mrs. Beavah sometimes tells me to go, because I start gettin' grumpy if I'm too long away from da forests and streams. ;)


While packsaddle's view resonates with me, JMHawkins' view just didn't. I get where he's comin' from, and I sometimes see that subtext. In his worldview I'd be one of da adventuresome ones. I just don't think it's the main story. As I consider it, I guess I think he put two things together that I think are independent.


One thing is da continuum between adventurous and cautious. That's real, eh? Some folks are more risk-adverse than others, and as we get older we tend to become more cautious and less open to learning. I'd be one of da adventurous ones. Probably most of us scouters are.


My experience is that far from distrusting us adventurous folks, the less adventurous often delight in us. They love the stories and tales, and they support our adventure in scouting and out in many ways. I've never seen anybody look at me with hate or fear. There's a reason why almost every marketing campaign shows adventurous folks, eh? ;) It's attractive even to the non-adventurous.


For my part, far from bein' dismissive of cautious folks, I enjoy them. We work with more cautious kids and parents in Scouting all the time, eh? It tests our skill as leaders and teachers. Yah, yah, every now and again folks who are hyper-cautious and unwilling to learn frustrate me a bit, but I'd never, ever call 'em "sheeple" or any such derogatory term. Far from it, they tend to consistent, hardworkin', reliable folks.


I think there's a second, independent thing that tracks more along da lines of what JMHawkins is talkin' about, and that's a split between community-minded and selfish. I think it's better described as a separate scale. When I'm in da backcountry, I might be solitary and adventurous, but I never stop bein' community-minded. I practice LNT to a fault; when I hunt, I'm very capable and responsible. When I come across others, I give 'em space to enjoy the woods in peace, but am always willing to help if they are in need. Bein' community-minded doesn't stop when we're alone.


When you're an adventurous sort, folks will support you and even admire you if yeh stay community-minded, but they do want and expect to see competence and a sense of intelligent responsibility. They expect us to be good citizens, not selfish. And they're apt to get tetchy when folks bein' adventurous comes at their expense. Be a risk-takin' investor or businessman who is responsible, you'll be respected. I think that's all perfectly reasonable on their part, eh? I'd be ashamed if I didn't show that sort of sense of responsibility.


Sadly, we see selfish adventurous folks all the time, eh? Those hack-and-slash campers who must have a bonfire in the deep woods, with their music at full volume. Those first-up-Everest climbers who leave fellow climbers to die rather than gettin' in the way of their own PR climb. Those hunters who bait where it's not allowed, or trespass, or take over their limit, or can't hit their prey without a 30-round mag. Da bankers who gamble and expect da rest of us to bail 'em out.


I see selfish cautious folks too, eh? Da folks who feel they are entitled to aid and assistance while they sit on their duff or underperform, who want to pave all the trails, or get advancement for sittin' about. Who won't spend da effort to learn new things, and then expect others to give 'em employment when their old job goes away.


So for me that's the real split, eh? Between community-minded and selfish. Lots of adventurous folks and lots of cautious folks are community-minded and decent citizens. But yeh see some few who are selfish. It just manifests in slightly different ways.




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