Lack of Community in the U.S.

Posted on November 20, 2007. Filed under: Community, Social Change |

I am leaving for Africa next week to work with World Hope International in Zambia and Vital Communications in Zimbabwe.  Both of these organizations have been working for over a decade to help Africans in these countries to become self-sufficient and strengthen their communities.  The reality is that most of the people in these countries already have a strong sense of community, but just need aid to overcome crisis.

The idea of community has been common place in Africa for a long time.  Individuals in these communities suffering from famine, government turmoil, and AIDS epidemic, have been working together to stay alive for hundreds of years.  The crisis they face daily have pushed them apart, but working together against these crisis they are becoming communities again.

The idea of community, on the other hand, is not common place in the United States.  Most people go to work in their single person car, leave work in their single person car, park their car in a garage and shut all the blinds to make it look like no body is home.  On the weekends they take their single person cars to the grocery store, where they use self-checkout lines, and pick up fast food on the way home.  In larger cities in the United States things have changed a little with public transportation and more people walking, but cellphones and iPods continue to keep everyone at a distance.

These facts trouble me.  I know this isn’t a new thought, we all know that Americans are individuals and neighborly love is a thing of the past, but how to do we fix this.  We can see the crisis of individuality taking over our country and not in a good way.  Small communities have been able to push past this a little more, but the entire country needs to hop on board.  What the solution is I am not sure, but something has to happen.

We cannot go on living the way we do here in the United States.  Big automobile corporations need to turn to producing public transportation again, light rail should be put up in all major cities, community efforts to save energy need to be more prevalent, and community gardens should be grown in every neighborhood.  Heck, China has what 10 times our population and they use approximately a 1/4 of the oil we do.

Maybe I am preaching to the choir, but one more person talking about the crisis is just one more person away from creating the strong communities we need in our society.  Community equals sustainability.  Shane Claiborne, founder of the Simple Way, says “Live simply so that others may simply live.”  His words of wisdom should ring through American’s ears.


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2 Responses to “Lack of Community in the U.S.”

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Hi! Glad to run across someone with similar point of view. My husband grew up in Kenya as a missionary kid and we’ve been there 3 times since we’ve been married. The last time we were there we did 2 years of mission work, working at a Christian boarding school as well as work in the local community. Africa has community figured out, something we have no idea we lack until we go to Africa. We are hoping to go back next year to continue with mission work. The lack of vision & community among God’s people may prevent it from happening. We have noticed such a cultural change in the last 5 years. Canada is also in a sad state. Thank you for your article.

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