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Loss of Community

February 15, 2011

Do you remember the days in which your life consisted of helping those around you? The mass majority of individuals residing in the United States would not. What ever happened to taking care of your neighbor in their time of need? Do you even talk to your neighbor? Rebecca Solnit, writer of The Uses of Disaster, brings up an interesting point stating that the United States has deeply privatized. Each individual has assigned themselves the role of going to work for about eight hours a day and then go home to rest. Sounds like such a great way to live your life, right? Well, as we all know, the United States has developed the mindset that to be successful and prosperous is the way in which we must live. But there are many that don’t have this so-called ‘luxury’ and therefore need help. The problem is that many don’t react to these starving, homeless, innocent lives. This is why I agree with Solnit’s argument that during the times of despair, violence, and fear, people finally come to their senses and provide love and support to those you know or may not know, bringing out a community full of positiveness and warmth that is lost due to the working life. September 11, 2001, as Solnit elaborates and as this video will show, brought out that comforting, heroic community that was tucked away for many years. CAUTION: NOT FOR YOUNG VIEWERS!

Not only did this video show people helping others escape the World Trade Center Buildings, but it also showed how everyone stopped what they were doing to take part in the event or at least make sure the people were okay. This disaster triggered the true side of humans, the life outside of work, money, and independence. These moments, although horrible to witness as many would agree who watched as the Twin Towers fell, still provide a sense of public security. People that may not have ever seen your face before helping you and taking you into their home to make sure you are safe and healthy is such a great feeling from both perspectives. The injured individual realizes that our nation is full of good Samaritans and the helper gets to have the feeling that they did something positive for someone else, like they were being a superhero for a day. Although this sounds so great and heart-warming, this moment of community and togetherness only comes out in times of mass need. What about every other day? The day before the attack, what were you doing? I bet you weren’t letting a group of innocent people into your home and offering them burgers and fries with a glass of water. I bet you weren’t watching the television feeling extremely sorry for the individual who died from a shooting that happened in a nearby gas station. Or if you did, your feeling of sadness and best wishes for that victim’s family lasted until the commercials came on. The point I’m trying to get across, as well as Solnit, is that our love for one another, our care and support for those other than yourself is fading away. Solnit believes that “the shift is economic” and that such ideas like the New Deal and Great Society are “against the idea that we should take care of one another, against the idea of community” (2005, 7). Money and well-being are top-priority in people’s minds and in such a competitive economy that we developed, there is no way in going back to the ‘everyone is family’ way of life. It all comes down to how much we care and unfortunately, it only becomes an issue when it becomes the concern of many.

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One Comment
  1. kkokotil permalink
    April 20, 2011 5:51 PM

    I definately agree with this blog. I remember having this conversation in my psychology class a couple years ago. We talked about how some people don’t stop and help because they are worried that it will either negatively affect them some how, or they think its easier to just keep walking. In today’s society, we do lack a sense of community that is vital to our success. This is especially true within our cities, and the places that we live. Things such as block clubs, and truly making an effort to get to know your neighbors do wonders for neighborhoods, because people are interacting with the people in their closest environments. It promotes collective action and safe, effectively functioning communities. In addition, from listening to many conversations between my parents, I also believe that in today’s world, people don’t (generally) even help out our families as much as people did years ago. In today’s world, people are much more self motivated and individually concerned and I believe that working together and especially helping out the people that are closest to you would definately benefit our society.

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