Community


By Georgie Bright Kunkel

They say opposites attract. I suspect there may be some truth in that. But in my own experience I find that opposites often grate on each other’s consciousness. Another saying is that birds of a feather flock together. So if people have more in common they tend to gravitate to each other. You have heard the saying “No man is an island.” but as a feminist I would say “No person is an island.”

We in this country value individualism more than in most cultures. After all, the early settlers left the old country that did not respect their beliefs and struck out on their own--but not as one person in the wilderness. No, not at all. They soon built villages and developed a way of life in community groups.

It is said that the greatest pressure in life is to conform to the group. The group gives one a secure place in which to belong. People who were seen as different were persecuted and ostracized. Some were even called witches and blamed for a famine or a downturn in life. Women were not considered leaders and were even shut out of community meetings where only the male elders of the community could meet and make policy.

There was no internet to surf for the latest information. The elders of the village gave their sage advice whenever a decision had to be made. Tradition was upheld and age old mores were the guidelines for each new generation. As people left the extended families in villages for city living, younger people no longer depended upon their elders for advice or leadership.

Today, in the information age resulting from research and intellectual exploration,
we depend much less on the conventional wisdom passed down from one generation to the next. Extended families no longer live in close proximity and we depend more and more on the internet for information and advice. Just the other day I lost my way to an event in West Seattle. I have always said that I can’t find my way out of a paper bag.

I stopped to ask directions and a young woman whipped out her I-phone and Googled the address and in no time I was pointed in the right direction.

Every manner of information is available these days but there is not always a way to sift the lies and misinformation from the truth. For this reason I have aligned myself with community groups that I trust to supply information that I need in my life. College education results in being exposed to the latest information that one might be more likely to trust. But new research is often surfacing wiping out information that once seemed reliable. I had taken calcium with vitamin D supplements for years but new research indicates that it may be better to get calcium naturally and that taking calcium supplements might even cause kidney stones.

Think back to the cave days when one knew only what the elders of the tribe passed on about the world. Now fast forward to today’s internet generation when anyone is free to spread any information that they want to spread. Perhaps we are now experiencing overkill in information. In processing information we need to rely on sources that we trust in order to find what really affects us individually. We must take the responsibility to be cautious in what we believe about our world. And as an old prophet has said, “Know thyself.” And be true to yourself in becoming a responsible citizen. Those who prepared well to make educated choices in the latest election were certainly responsible. Our world will be a better place as a result.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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