Monday, December 24, 2012

Unanswered Question

I realized yesterday that a reader asked me a question, quite a while ago, that I never answered.  It had to do with the name of this blog. The suggestion was that I had given the blog two names instead of one, i.e. "both "Village Green" and "Town Squared." Now that the sand is just about out of the hourglass for 2012, I thought it was time to tie up this loose end with an explanation.

A Village Green is just a piece of land if no one is there. Having the land set aside for the people is of no purpose if the people aren't there.  It is though our coming together, exchanging ideas, learning, growing, and changing that the Village Green takes on a special meaning. Its power is increased exponentially. Thus, what this blog hopes to be:  Village Green/Town Squared.  The human connection is the point.

I was reminded of just how important this mission is when I read the following post by Sharon Williams.

"I promise this is NOT political: I'd just like to share my thoughts on the Sandy Hook tragedy from a professional/personal perspective and express what I believe all of us can do as individuals to help make things better. And in the end, regardless of our political beliefs, isn't that what we all want, to make things better in our country, our world?

I have been a social worker for 12 years at an inpatient psychiatric hospital working with children, adolescents, and their families. Among the adolescents who present as homicidal (and to a lesser extent, suicidal), the most pervasive phenomenon I have observed is that these children experience anomie. Anomie is defined as a breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community, resulting in a disconnect between the person and society. Sometimes the children have personal reasons for feeling this way, but my impression is that community, which used to be endemic in this country, has been breaking down for decades. There have been books noting this trend, most notably "Bowling Alone", written by Robert Putnam and published in 2000.

What I think we can all do is start small: Talk to your neighbors. Talk to their kids. Have block parties. Frequent local stores and restaurants and talk to the patrons and employees. If you feel the call, join a church. Join community associations. If you have kids, get involved with the PTA. Start a book club. Volunteer at a local food bank or hospital. There are dozens of things you can do. I realize everyone is busy, but if we can just take a little time to try to connect with others around us, that will do wonders for all children, not just our own. Children will feel part of something, and that feeling will be belonging. And with belonging comes value. And with value comes treating themselves and others well, with dignity, respect, and care. And this will spread like ripples in a pond; it will reach beyond your own neighborhood and town. I know it's not the answer to everything, but it's the answer to something. I think since December 14th, 2012, we've all been striving for answers."

Enjoy your holidays, love your family, keep warm, be joyful. And one more thing: reach out, and keep on reaching, until you make a connection.  


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