The Times, They Are a’Changing. Again.
Yes it’s a cliché, with apologies to Bob Dylan. But the past 10 years have seen change unlike any our society has witnessed before. Thanks to digital advances , the time it takes for technology to “diffuse” into society has shortened considerably. Whereas broadcast media like TV or radio took generations to gain a foothold, digital technology has permeated every part of life, in the blink of an eye. It’s still the Wild Wild West out there, and in terms of incorporating digital culture into our parenting, intimate and professional relationships, work, consumerist economy, politics, and social activism, we are still building the plane as we are flying it.
In this warp-speed era, values associated with organizations like the Co-op can make a difference in keeping you turned around right. I find I turn to these values more and more every year, as I struggle to keep pace with change. The Co-op values I treasure are community over the individual, peace, social and environmental justice, artistic expression, education and, of course, honesty. The potential to forget the importance of such universalities in keeping us steady is huge.
Maybe I’m a perennial optimist, or maybe I can see the broad sweep of time a little more clearly from this vantage point. Be that as it may, I think something good is going to come of all this change, eventually. My sense is that just the way traditional broadcast media created small communities bonded around shared values earlier last century, digital media has the potential to do the same. As we saw with the last election, the power of digital media to mobilize huge swaths of people – often for nefarious ends – is great. For as the Buddhist philosopher Nicherin Daishonin wrote, “When great evil occurs, great good follows.” I see the forces of digital media and the shared values of communities like ours coming together in ways we can’t yet know, simply because things are spinning too fast. Things will slow, and we will begin to emerge from the chaos with new coherence.
Local organizations with smaller communities like the Co-op’s offer places where meaningful change can happen. It doesn’t have to be BIG change, either. Maybe there’s a family who just immigrated to the area from Burma or Nigeria that we can give a discount to. Maybe someone lost someone they loved, as happened to two of my friends recently, when both women’s partners died suddenly and unexpectedly, of diseases of the heart. Maybe there’s an elder who could use a visit? Research just showed that loneliness creates stress and ill health just as much as poverty, or too much of the wrong kind of work or lifestyle. Perhaps you know a military family who, despite autumn’s abundance, is struggling with food insecurity. Small, local gestures like these can make change, and a difference, in a life.
At this time of year in our neck of the woods, change is particularly profound. The seasons begin to turn and we prepare for our winter hibernacula, to ponder existence, community, and connection. For in the end, as Frog said to Toad in The Wind in the Willows, “We are wayfarers, all.” During this season of transition and change, being part of a community where people have a better chance of knowing each others’ names and sharing values is both an honor and a privilege – and maybe even a necessity, in these scary times.
To get a taste of these shared values, I encourage you to read our very thoughtful article written for the Voice this month by Dennis Shibut on solar co-ops, or “Enercoops” as they’re called, that are taking root in France. Our Co-op certainly has the potential, if not yet the will, to do the same. Equally thoughtful is Meg Breen’s article, first of a two-part series (at least!) on the toll the consumer-driven holidays take on human health (particularly children’s) and the environment. Yet another, the third article in a series by Tom Washington, continues to educate Voice readers on the benefits of a ketonic diet, so we can each stay healthy, participate to our fullest potential, and support each other.
The VOICE is hungry to hear your voice, please! We have a special Letters to the Editors space that has been all too silent. Please write to us! We want to hear your voices. You can talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be sure to respond.
Thanks for reading.