Friday, December 11, 2009

Where have all the Barn Raisings gone?

Ever see one of the those old movies or westerns that show the small town coming together for a barn raising? The bad guys or some tragedy burned the person's house or barn down. The whole community then comes together and builds a new house or barn for them. The 1985 movie "Witness" by Peter Weir (see clip) showed an awesome barn raising in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. There is cooperation, community, and selflessness. I always thought it was the coolest thing.

Ever wonder why this sort of thing doesn't happen much anymore? I do. In earlier times, or even today in small, isolated towns, people had/have to depend on each other in order to survive. They did not have the luxury of living in social isolation and fenced-in yards.

The closest thing that I see in contemporary America is helping someone move or a church helping paint an elderly person's house. I always make time to help someone move. People in those situations are usually needing help and feeling vulnerable. It is a great way to come together in a genuine shared experience. And, it let's people know that they are not alone. That if things really got bad, there would be someone there to help. It is one of the most powerful ways I know to make a difference.

And... as things with the economy and the planet get more challenging, we may be heading full circle to a time that we once again have to rely on each other to survive. The truth is when we, as a people, start becoming self-centered, self-indulgent, and isolated, it creates societal or economic problems that force us to come together again. It is nature's way of keeping us honest. It could be rather inconvenient. But maybe then, we might not feel so isolated, lonely, and at-risk. Maybe if we started now, things may not have to get as bad as they would otherwise. My friend has a truck...

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