It’s Wednesday, so it’s Community day here at Taking it to the Streets.
You might recognize the title – it’s a quote from Karl Marx. Like Jesus, he said radical things that have gotten woefully twisted into bizarre aberrations of the speakers intent. And like Jesus, if you take his words at face value they make a lot of sense, right?
I’ve just come through a powerful few months where the power of community felt life-changing. When my not-then-yet-46-year-old friend Becky got diagnosed with liver and bone cancer in October I initially felt helpless. She and her partner Annemarie have been close, cherished friends of mine. They’re also enough younger than me so that my protective Big Sister genes seem to get triggered. Now there was Big Trouble brewing (way worse than when the neighbor kid smashed my brother’s head into the frozen snow – I KNEW what to do about that – beat the hell out of that kid!). No easy answers. What to do?
“from each according to their abilities”. My dad said when I became a Life Coach “Diane, I just don’t get this one on one work for you – since you were three years old you’ve been in front of a group of kids saying “C’mon, kids, follow me!”. Tis true. And, like my mother I tend to like to communicate. A lot.
So my abilities lay in organizing a way for us to communicate and quickly form a community – Facebook! From there we could easily organize to meet the other needs our friends had with a wide group of community members (our FB page, Becky & Annie’s Support Team, currently has 275 members).
We could ask for help (We need healthy dinners. We need someone to walk their dog. We need a ride for Becky to another hospital. We need a wheelchair.) – and someone who COULD do this, and was WILLING to do it, would spring forth.
Most of us are way busy already. Many had husbands, wives, partners and/or kids, pets or several of the above for whom to care. Some had cancer themselves. We all have very different skills. And likes/dislikes.
I found that the hands-on nursing care in Becky’s last two days of life was not something I felt comfortable with – no matter – we had others who willingly jumped in. We each gave from our hearts, from our abilities, what we were able to give and (hopefully) no more.
I am a big fan of technology – it’s how I’ve made my living on and off since 1981 and in my personal life while I’m very much a minimalist about the material world, I am NOT a minimalist about my electronics as they provide me a gateway to the Internet and thus to the world.
Like with the revolution in Egypt (was that cool or what??) technology was both an enabler of our efforts and an expediter. We got tech support from my nephew in Atlanta, contributions to our fund from Alaska, words of encouragement from London. People who didn’t know Becky & Annie personally, but knew one of us, joined the tribe. It was my first-cousin-once-removed, Michele, who suggested we set up a monetary fund to help defray costs – she lives in Albany, NY, doesn’t know Becky or Annie and barely knows me. Technology enabling community and community enabling healing.
We’re using our Support page now to stay together as a community for the fundraiser one of the people on the team volunteered to set up. I suspect we’ll stay together after that – at least for a while as we walk through our own grief and try to do whatever we can to assuage Annie’s grief.
How about you? Has the Internet in general, Facebook in particular, helped you create community? Do you see instances, maybe at your church/mosque/synagogue or community groups where Karl Marx’s dictum is working pretty well? I’d love to hear about YOUR experiences of community.
We’re stronger together. a lot stronger.