I happen to believe that America is dying of loneliness, that we, as a people, have bought into the false dream of convenience, and turned away from a deep engagement with our internal lives — those fountains of inconvenient feeling. . . . We’re hurtling through time and space and information faster and faster, seeking that network connection. But at the same time we’re falling away from our families and our neighbors and ourselves.
Our lack of community is intensely painful. A TV talk show is not community. A couple of hours in a church pew each Sabbath is not community. A multinational corporation is neither a human nor a community, and in the sweatshops, defiled agribusiness fields, genetic mutation labs, ecological dead zones, the inhumanity is showing.
We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.
This is how my parents’ community works. They don’t have endless meetings and minutes. When there is a birth, the aunties know immediately. When someone dies, it doesn’t take long for the food rotation to be set up.
I think each village was meant to feel pity for its own sick and poor whom it can help and I doubt if it is the duty of any private person to fix his mind on ills which he cannot help. This may even become an escape from the works of charity we really can do to those we know. God may call any one of us to respond to some faraway problem or support those who have been so called. But we are finite and he will not call us everywhere or to support every worthy cause. And real needs are not far from us.
We can see Spirit made visible when people are kind to one another, especially when it’s a really busy person, like you, taking care of a needy, annoying, neurotic person, like you.
There was once an old Jewish man. All he ever did in his spare time was go to the edge of the village and plant fig trees. People would ask him, “Why are you planting fig trees? You are going to die before you can eat any of the fruit that they produce.” But he said, “I have spent so many happy hours sitting under fig trees and eating their fruit. Those trees were planted by others. Why shouldn’t I make sure that others will know the enjoyment that I have had?”
This world is better than Utopia because — and follow this point carefully — you can never live in Utopia. Utopia is always somewhere else. That’s the very definition of Utopia.
Love your neighbor as yourself but don’t take down your fence.
There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other.
Community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish where always the boundaries are giving way to the coming of others beyond them — unknown and undiscovered brothers.
We humans are herd animals of the monkey tribe, not natural individuals as lions are. Our individuality is partial and restless; the stream of consciousness that we call “I” is made of shifting elements that flow from our group and back to our group again.
Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.
Am I my brother’s keeper? No, I’m my brother’s brother, or my brother’s sister. Human unity is not something we are called on to create — only something we are called on to recognize.
Every heart is the other heart. Every soul is the other soul. Every face is the other face. The individual is the one illusion.