Today’s world is fast-paced, highly competitive and, some would say, “ethica`lly challenged.” Current mores put profit above principle and often place greater emphasis upon what we do for ourselves than what we do for each other. The political climate is troubling, as well. Our government has been brought to a near standstill by the unyielding adherence by politicians on both sides of the ideological spectrum to extreme and intractable positions. Rigid party allegiance and intransigence have eclipsed a sense of common purpose and have all but eliminated the possibility of civil discourse. Unfortunately, this creates a climate that is not conducive to a collegial and respectful national conversation, one that will bring us all together to solve our country’s many challenges.
Clearly, this is not a desirable or sustainable state of affairs. It is, of course, true that each of us wishes to succeed in life. We work hard. We want to prosper; to be comfortable and secure. These are important and natural desires. Nonetheless, many of us would agree that an over-emphasis on personal success to the detriment of the common good is not healthy for our communities. After all, we want for our children a world that is characterized by kindness, fairness, tolerance and generosity of spirit. These days we tend to measure success in terms of power and money. There is another path. Often a casualty of partisan rancor and personal ambition, this road emphasizes the importance of community. It is grounded in the notion that the fulfillment of worthy personal aspirations is no less likely and much more meaningful when our successes are shared by those around us.
We’re not always moved by such clichés as “united we stand, divided we fall.” Yet, in the midst of these challenging times we would all do well to consider these maxims carefully. If we do, we will come to appreciate that we are, indeed, stronger as a group than we are as individuals. When we are united we can accomplish great things.
First we must be charitable. We must accept and trust each other. Then we will be willing to rely upon each other. And then, perhaps, we will be willing not only to help each other, but to accept help from each other. These are a few of the hallmarks of strong community. They are intuitive, but, strangely, not easily embraced. We can dedicate ourselves to this calling. Many already have and it is reflected in the small as well as the big things they think and do as they go about their days. Hope for a collegial and respectful national conversation rests in a collegial and respectful local conversation. Hope for solving our country’s challenges rests in meeting our local challenges together.
Leaving our children a kinder, fairer, more tolerant and generous world starts here and now with us. Let’s commit ourselves to this task. Let’s build strong and healthy communities. Let’s embrace the idea that there is much more that we can achieve together than we will ever achieve apart. Let’s do this for each other, for our hometowns, for our region. Let’s do it for our children.
[Honesdale, PA resident Edward Cremo sits on the board of The Cooperage Project, a non-profit organization that seeks to build community through the performing arts, learning opportunities, good times and good works. Its home is The Cooperage, located on Main Street in Honesdale.]