Amblin' Alameda: Community

Amblin' Alameda: Community

Morton Chalfy

We live in such different times than the olden days, no matter how long ago the olden days were. Our species clearly requires at least a tribe for an individual to exist, let alone grow and flourish and procreate. In the olden days tribes were the basic human unit and community was where we lived. By community I mean we knew all our neighbors (as they were our aunts, uncles and cousins) and life was lived through a lot of community cooperation. All for one and one for all was an expression of reality rather than a wished-for state.

And then we became civilized, literally - we moved into cities, and most of the functions of community gradually faded away. Hunters became manufacturers, gatherers became shoppers, shamans who once knew us from birth became disinterested professionals. Feelings of belonging to a specific group were replaced by feelings of estrangement within a larger society. All for one became everyone for him or herself. Altogether not the best of trades from the point of view of people born into an increasingly “dog eat dog” mentality.

But we do have the holiday season. From Thanksgiving through Christmas we remember that in fact we are all in this world together, that the Brother and Sisterhood of humanity is real and that the joys of communal sharing go deep within us. This is the season of gathering together, of helping each other, of caring for the least fortunate and of taking joy in family and friends.

Here in Alameda, shopping on Park Street or Webster or at Shoreline or at any of the smaller centers of commerce we are graced with, we have run into lots of good will, good cheer and smiles. True, there is the occasional impatient driver or shopper, but they seem rare in our town and are more than made up for by the service personnel, clerks and waitpersons and others, who greet us cheerfully, serve us happily and wish us a “great day.”

As the world turns toward the uncertain future we are creating, the lesson of all of us being in this one, lone ark of a planet together will be borne into us with greater and greater force. We are already so tightly integrated globally that everything affects everybody. But I'm optimistic because of the community we live in. Diverse ethnicities but with a single attitude of helpfulness and community. We can all live together and we'll have to do so to maintain an Earth that is capable of supporting us.

It is fitting, as a community, to mourn and mark the passing of Nelson Mandela, whose life was a lesson in tolerance being the end result of very hard-earned wisdom. Rest in peace.


Submitted by Jay Creighton (not verified) on Tue, Dec 10, 2013

Wonderful insight, Mort. President Mandela would, I hope, agree that your little town of Alameda represents some of the best that humans are capable of creating: a place of diversity, acceptance, and goodwill.