As the financial and economic ground continues to shift beneath our feet, it becomes ever more imperative that we reduce our dependence upon the institutions and structures that we have come to depend upon and take for granted. The financial tsunami of 2008 and the continuing aftershocks should be a wakeup call. The sock markets may be up (for now), but that should not be taken as comforting evidence that everything is “getting back to normal.” As billionaire financier George Soros said in his recent book, “This crisis …has brought the entire [financial] system to the brink of a breakdown, and it is being contained only with the greatest difficulty. This will have far reaching consequences. It is not business as usual but the end of an era.” (The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Crash of 2008 and What it Means. p. 81).
The total outstanding credit for all sectors in the U.S. economy was 160% GDP in 1929, 260% in 1932. By comparison, we entered the 2008 crash at 365%, and Soros believes this will rise to about 500% of GDP within the next few years.
What seems to be in prospects for the foreseeable future for the vast majority of people in the developed world, especially the United States, is diminished purchasing power. This the result of simultaneous trends of underemployment or unemployment, rising prices of basic necessities due to currency debasement (inflation), and systematic attacks on the middle-class by the political establishment.
How do we cope with all of that? It is, of course, as the proverb says, both a challenge and an opportunity. I have suggested before that society is on the verge of metamorphic change that offers the promise of a more peaceful and harmonious world in which basic needs are met and everyone has the opportunity to realize their fullest potential. But it will take the right kind of action to make that vision a reality. It will require that we take sharing and cooperation to new levels, and that we create new structures that can serve the common good. An essential part of that is building community.
On that score, I take inspiration from Richard Flyer and the Conscious Community Network. Richard recently posted a list of 37 ways to build community. No Act is Too Small! You can click on that link to learn more, but I have extracted the 37 ways here for your convenience. I’m sure Richard won’t mind.—t.h.g.
1. A smile and a wave will go a long way.
2. Each morning, ask where you can make a difference.
3. Find the good in others instead of their faults – start in your home and on your street.
4. Become aware of hidden needs on your street – isolated seniors;
youth needing mentors, single parents; etc.
5. Start a community garden.
6. Practice forgiveness.
7. Surprise a new neighbor by making a favorite dinner – and include the recipe.
8. Slow down and enjoy the present moment.
9. Don’t gossip.
10. Start a monthly tea group.
11. Play cards with friends and neighbors.
11. Start a babysitting cooperative.
12. Form a group of neighbors to walk their dogs together.
13. Seek to understand.
14. Start a carpool.
15. Have family dinners and read to your children.
16. If you grow tomatoes, plant extra for a lonely elder who lives nearby – better yet, ask him/her to teach you and others to can the extras.
17. Turn off the TV, Play Station, PSP, and talk with family, friends, and neighbors.
18. Bless your food with gratitude.
19. Know that love is not a feeling but a courageous choice.
20. Ask neighbors for help and reciprocate.
21. Talk to your children or parents about how their day went.
22. Say hello to strangers.
23. Create a neighborhood newsletter.
24. Organize a neighborhood clean-up.
25. Be a model and demonstrate the virtues you want to see in the world.
26. Be a peacemaker.
27. Talk to the mail carrier.
28. Shoot some ‘hoops with neighbor children.
29. Support local merchants.
30. Speak kindly and listen carefully
31. Hire young people for odd jobs.
32. Form a tool cooperative with neighbors and share ladders, rakes, snow blowers, etc.
33. Grow your own food.
34. Be real. Be humble. Be respectful.
35. Offer to watch your neighbor’s home or apartment while they are away
36. Be of service to all.
37. Go to http://www.consciouscommunity-reno.org/ to share your stories.
Adapted from http://bettertogether.org.