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Appreciating community

Posted on November 23, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The world seems quite chaotic lately. The government in Washington D.C. is polarized and paralyzed. The climate and weather patterns are changing in unpredictable ways. The stock market keeps hitting new highs, while the poorest in America hit new lows. Gun violence is rampant, addiction to opiates at epidemic levels, and housing ever more expensive and harder to come by.

And yet, those of us living in Sonoma Valley have much to appreciate. It’s not that the chaos of the world does not affect us; in ways large and small it impacts our thoughts, emotions and lives. The tidal forces of society and culture are strong and largely inescapable; call it the human condition.

But the human condition is what connects us, and how this community responded and continues to respond to the terrible fires of October is a source of deep appreciation. During the emergency, acts of selflessness and sacrifice became the currency of interaction; donations, volunteers, generosity and generally looking out for one another altered how we think and feel, perhaps forever. Neighbors who rarely talked suddenly became aware of each other, no longer strangers; friends long out-of-touch reconnected.

These roots of care and compassion have always been the greatest strength of human society, far stronger and more nourishing to the spirit than greed, fear or the raw exercise of power. The soul of the community is found here: in our hearts. Our heads — with their varying opinions, well-worn attitudes, rationalized biases, acquired preferences and the like — fade into the background when we lead with our hearts.

How that looks is free meals for the hungry, free clothes for those who have none, firefighters working for twenty-four hours straight, and volunteers running social networks disseminating important information. It’s government working to secure safe housing, resetting priorities and making sure people get the support they need to get back on their feet.

All of this has happened and is happening. It’s not perfect, but nothing is, and we feel deep appreciation for the strength and soul of this community. We feel exceptionally lucky to live and work here, not only because the Valley is beautiful but because of the beauty of its people.

Thanksgiving is different this year; we all can and should feel thankful to those who jumped in to save lives and homes, thankful to those who continue to help the many victims of the fire, and thankful that more was not lost. But mostly we can feel thankful for each other, and knowing that when disaster strikes and things get tough, we’ve got each other’s backs.

– Sun Editorial Board

 



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