In his collection of essays entitled “Love, Sex, Economy and Community”, essayist and small farmer Wendell Berry says:
“The indispensable form that can intervene between public and private interests is that of the community. The concerns of public and private, republic and citizen, necessary as they are, are not adequate for the shaping of human life. Community alone, as a principle and as a fact, can raise the standards of local health (ecological, economic, social, and spiritual) without which the other two interests will destroy one another. By community, I mean the commonwealth and common interests, commonly understood, of people living together in a place and wishing to continue to do so.
To put it another way, community is a locally understood interdependence of local people, local culture, local economy, and local nature. … Lacking the interest of or in such a community, private life becomes merely a sort of reserve in which individuals defend their “right” to act as they please and attempt to limit or destroy the “rights” of other individuals to act as they please. A community identifies itself by an understood mutuality of interests. But it lives and acts by the common virtues of trust, goodwill, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion, and forgiveness.”
I have used this quote for years in my work with servant leadership and I practice it with as much diligence as I can remember to bring to my daily life. It works. In a true community, we can accomplish the enactment of compassion and the creation of new works of brilliance on a scale and with effects not possible anywhere else. One of the blessings in our community is that we have a say – the final say – in who our leaders are to be. We are the envy of the world in this respect. On November 3rd, we have a chance to express our preferences and participate directly in the direction our community will take. I urge you to please become familiar with candidates and issues and above all, to vote. That simple act alone plugs you in to the dynamic energy Wendell Berry describes. If you don’t vote, you are ceding your opportunity to participate meaningfully in your community to others and worse, you’re making a statement that you don’t value the community enough to participate. Vote on November 3rd. Be part of our community.