There is no need to construct a world where we have to choose between systems and the communal path. There are limitations to localism, just as there are benefits to systems. The point is to overcome our isolation …
We want to construct a communal world, one in which the functions that systems perform are congruent with what the community needs. When communities are fully functioning, when they are doing all the things they can do themselves, then we can re-discover what systems we need and what for. We might ask then: What would a system look like that built neighborliness and covenantal relationships? It could begin with the question of how a human services system can create for its own workers the same cultural experience that it is intending to bring into the world. This would enable systems to support the kind of communal culture we are exploring.
This past week has forced most of us to reimagine being connected in a new era of social distancing. In wonder, I have witnessed: young people teaching older adults how to use technology, authors reading chapters of their books to children whose parents could use a touch of respite from unexpectantly becoming teachers virtually overnight, neighbors picking up medication and food for each other, creative classrooms and playdates, parents finding new rhythms – learning when to pivot and when to press in, videos of skill-sharing and entertainment, families taking walks together and . . . the list could literally go on and on.
We are exercising new muscles. We are picking up new things and learning to lay other things down. We choose the communal path and desire to expand our neighborliness in ways that serve not only our needs. We ask, “What does my community need?” and seek to find creative ways to be the answer to that question – answers that not only serve us all in this new and strange current reality but launch us into becoming more fully human for the long haul.
(Block, Peter. An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture (p. 6))