Community values were the subject of my blog yesterday but they were in the context of bird life, mourning, in a sense, the loss of so many of the qualities, beliefs and practices that epitomised the altruism of our forebears, long ago.
It is rare, these days, to find true community spirit within the human family, when the focus for so many is subjective well-being usually envisioned as coming through financial security and status, consumerism at whatever cost.
[caption id="attachment_1695" align="alignright" width="150"] April loved pink[/caption]
I was reminded today, as I saw the pink funeral of a little girl who loved pink, that community consciousness exists still, and strongly: the small Welsh town of Machynlleth closed down and came together to say farewell to April Jones, just as the inhabitants had come together for many heart-rending hours to try to find the missing child, almost a year ago. They grieved together, supported together, communally united in the wish to help their own.
The loss of any child in an untimely or tragic way is a reason for attention, her kidnapping and murder even more so, but a year ago the unity of her home-town in its determination to help her and her family became almost as much the “story” as the facts of her disappearance did, because it was so remarkable in today’s materialistic world.
[caption id="attachment_2081" align="alignleft" width="150"] Machynlleth (via Wikipedia)[/caption]
In other towns, too, in Britain and other countries with a heart, neighbours have done what they can to help in times of tragedy, but often it has been limited by the anonymity of city life, transient populations, and the lack of a sense of belonging. Machynlleth, with its population of about 2000, is situated in a remote and very beautiful part of Wales, surrounded by mountain ranges and on its own: those who live here are confined and yet expanded by their enforced but chosen community isolation, as occurs in many very rural locations, past and, thankfully, present. The community spirit of hundreds of generations lives on, here, and there.
Meanwhile, in different places, community values have lessened to the point, sometimes, of being denied, or distorted at least, translated from compassion even into violence. The heart of community is kindness to others as well as to ourselves, and beyond ourselves; it is giving without seeking reward, and taking pleasure in the well-being of others, at all times. How could we have forgotten?