Author: Campbell, Bruce

It Takes a Community

I’m feeling pretty good about humankind right now.

It’d be REAL easy to feel just the opposite. There’s been some events in the news that leaves most people saddened and wondering “How can people do that to each other?” With a planet of 6 billion people, the odds are about 100% that someone is displaying astonishing cruelty at any given moment.

But the opposite is also true, if you care to look. It’s just not as newsworthy, but it’s a healthy counterpart to our species’ darker side, and, I suspect if you were able to accurately tabulate acts of cruelty vs acts of kindness, you’d see that kindness is much more prevalent.

The recent terrible news of a fire in San Francisco springs to mind. It so happened that the houses that burned were the homes of some well known (and well loved) local musicians, and seeing the local music community spring into action to provide relief for the victims is heartwarming - I hope the donations make a huge difference, (Please see the "Go" link below to donate) These people are my friends, and so are those that are helping to solicit donations to help. Money doesn’t completely a home lost to fire, of course, but it can help jump-start the healing process.

On another, less profound note, a recent story regarding the return of a beloved mandolin to a local musician 5 years after it was stolen makes me feel good as well. In this story (the next issue of the Bluegrass Breakdown will have the full story), perfect strangers (maybe I should say “rank strangers”, to provide bluegrass context), from points scattered around the Western hemisphere alerted the instrument’s owner that it had been found. Why? It would have been easier not to speak up, right?

The answer is community, my friends. When you feel you’re a part of a community, you have empathy for the others in the community. It cause you to instantly imagine yourself in the victim’s shoes, whether it’s a fire, or just the theft of an instrument. You know how you’d feel (or think you do), and you’re moved to action. Bad stuff can happen to anybody, and some bad stuff eventually happens to everybody. If you share a community with those people, you also share their pain, and maybe lessen it somewhat.

The folks who exhibit lack of emotion, compassion or remorse are invariably individuals who feel isolated. Their decisions, and their morals, exist in a cold vacuum, and the decision making process doesn’t include the consideration of how their actions might affect others.

Our communities exist on a multitude of layers, for most of us. There’s family, friends, work, hobbies – all of this helps keep us from getting too low, and also provides a support network that can spring into action when someone in the community is harmed. In the two cases I’ve cited above, it was the music community that came together, and I feel damn good to be part of that!

Posted:  7/27/2011

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