21 July

Open House, Open Group: Rediscovering Community.

by Jon Katz
Rediscovering Community
Rediscovering Community

In our world, the institutions we have depended on for support and guidance have turned inwards. Our political and corporate and media systems are cold, detached, greedy and power-driven, they fail to help us turn towards one another, rather than against one another. They celebrate and exploit and encourage our differences and erode the  sense of community that is much a part of being human. They advance the idea that our world is a cruel and dangerous place, and only they can guide us through it, if only we will vote for them and buy their insurance and goods. They have driven the advocates of a spiritual and peaceful world to the very margins of life, out of sight and mind. off of the “news.”

I came to see this clearly in my own anger and disconnection, and I find myself – often to my surprise – seeking in my writing, my photography, my blog, my life, my Open House, my Open Group At Bedlam Farm,  to rediscover community, a sense of civility and commonality, a need for connection that is the essence of the human spirit, the one thing that separates us from all other living things. When we turn on one another, we turn on ourselves, it never feels good or whole. When we turn towards one another, we begin to heal, to remember what it means to be a human being.

An odd thing for me, a lone wolf, an outsider, a born introvert, an oddball, to be doing. I belong to nothing, join nothing, reject the angry and defiant lefts that mark our identities. I would be appalled to always be on the “left” or the “right” of anything, what a shrinking of the mind. I reject the corporate driven news that has helped degrade our politics and our view of human life. Technology relentlessly separates us, and sometimes, it can help help us as well.

So our Open House is part of this effort to rediscover community, to understand what it means to be a human being. And technology can divide and isolate us, it can bring us back. I find that we don’t need to agree with one another – a controversial idea in a culture where people shun disagreement and only talk to versions of themselves. We don’t even need to like one another, that is not the point. We have lost our sense of neighbors, our sense of community and many of us are struggling to find it again, to turns towards one another and share our lives in trust and safety and respect. Sometimes, even love.

This, I think, is what the Open House is about, what the Open Group is about, this is something that is stirring in me. I have rejected the institutions of argument and confrontation and cruelty, they have no place in my life, and in my own small way, I will seek to go the other way, to give rebirth to timeless notions and instincts that speak to the better parts of the human spirit. This will be a long and lonely struggle, the political and corporate institutions that dominate our country seem to need to keep us apart from one another, angry at one another. Not my choice. Maria and I have been working so hard in our time together to re-connect to the world, to our families, to friends, to rediscover the sense of generosity and community that were the heart of the American experience. Perhaps we can get it back again. Small steps.

I dedicate this Open House to the rebirth of community.

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