Something that has been on my mind lately is connection with others and building deeper connections and stronger roots. To me, the loss of community and being neighborly is at the root of a lot of our societal problems. A friend of ours gave a profound insight; he said “people just care about different things these days.” He is absolutely right. It’s become a “me” society, and very individualized. We react. We compete. And as a result, we have lost a sense of community. COVID or not, we are losing our ability to connect and engage with other people. COVID just made us become even more of a “turtle society” as I like to call it. Return to our own homes at the end of the day, park hidden in our garages and if we do go outside it’s in our fenced in backyards.
Our “social muscle” is atrophying at an alarming rate and our children aren’t being taught how to connect and communicate. I saw this in the pharmacy students I taught, and if you look around it is evident just about everywhere. With the desire to be the best, or make the most money, or have the most clout, we lose the beauty of cooperation and collaboration. I think it’s our fascination, as a society, with “stuff” and keeping up with the Joneses. Enduring the busyness to keep up, but in reality, drowning. That busyness bleeds over into our thoughts and causes an endless chatter. Just spend five minutes scrolling social media and you will feel depressed and consumed by the negative energy surrounding posts and not-so-funny memes about being burnt out, missing the old days, and a plethora of variations of a stressed out, overly anxious, not happy, unfulfilled bunch of folks.
It’s interesting, though, that when given a chance to connect and build community these very same people, or others like them, don’t take the opportunity. Why? Nate voices similar frustration with the community orchard we built at Woodmen, our fraternal life insurance organization, which turned a dilapidated old pool into a mini-Garden of Eden within minutes of downtown Fayetteville. Nate says the building was the easy part, getting people to engage and actually care is a different story. We’re not even asking people to work the land like we are doing in our orchards in Wagram. We are simply asking for people to become more connected with nature on an entirely different level and simply love the space and use it as an escape to think, to dream, to pray, to simply sit back and watch the birds, the bees and breath in fresh air, a change of scenery from their own backyards.
Whilst anxiety, depression and a plethora of other mental health disorders are on the rise, with the current generation at the most risk, we’ve got to do better. We must start thinking about where we live, what we can do for our neighbors and to bring value to our communities. I truly believe it starts in our homes. Being the model for our children. Teaching our children to bring value to our communities and become valued members of the community in which they live is of prime importance. Being part of the community ourselves. People often admire our ability to sell our house, downsize most of our belongings, and move to our land. They compare us, incorrectly, to homesteaders. We are living sustainably, becoming more self-sufficient by growing food organically and healing our land holistically. But it is our intention beyond our familial consumption to give to our community and make it better. We aren’t prepping for doomsday. We are much too optimistic and hopeful than that! And our desire to give goes far beyond just growing wholesome food. We want to be the inspiration through our actions not our words. If we have enough, we give. We, and Cub Scouts, are showing our sons what it means to be engaged in our community. Teaching them to work daily on that “social muscle” to build confidence and influence others in a positive way.
There’s good news that lots of research backs up; lets drop the phone, become an active participant in life rather than just documenting for social media purposes or to be an “influencer.” If you want to be an influencer, be one with purpose in a community surrounded by real people. Get involved in some way. Get back to nature. If you need a place to do it, we’ve got more than enough space to share. I feel it and family and friends feel it. This is the place that heals, and all are welcome, just call first to make sure we’re all clothed! 😊