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Lion's Roar : Unpublished Writing

Conversation with Claire Culhane

Community's Not a Hobby

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien

Community's Not a Hobby

Community is not a Hobby arises out of necessity; as Gary Snyder says: community is what you turn to when you cannot meet your needs on your own. At that point the other aspect of community kicks in: community is not an affinity group, it is not just made up of the people we like; if it has strength, it is because it is made up of people who don't like each other but feel a need to work things out nonetheless. As Chomsky says: free speech is fine as long as everyone's expressing a view you agree with--how long does free speech last if it's a view you disagree with? That too is the test of community. We seem to treat 'community' like a tennis club: people with similar values, like-minded folks with the same incomes. But in fact community is built on differences and dependencies. Community is not a hobby. It is not 'volunteerism'. If community is merely volunteerism, then you find people un-volunteering as soon as things get difficult or as soon as something easier or more 'fun' interests them. Luxury withers community. Wealth allows you to buy isolation; you no longer need to depend on your neighbour; you no longer need to deal with uncomfortable differences due to your reliance on shared energy and tools. With wealth you can purchase energy of others, purchase your own tools and equipment so that you dont have to share; you dont have to get along; you dont have to work things out. Just ignore it; or move. Buy a better place; move to another neighbourhood.