A Different Take on Community


By: Sarai Exil

The first time I saw a car accident, I was on my way to Woodland Middle School where I attended the 8th grade. My mom was driving, and my sister, Elizabeth, and I were in the back of the van (our parents were overly strict on the whole kids-sitting –in-the–front-seat thing). Seven or six cars were in front of us when the four-stop system failed again, and one car t-boned another. It happened in slow motion like all mind-blowing experiences. I can still see the pieces of glass flying while chunks of constructed metal clashed to create demons of destruction.

I remember getting out of the car to see better. My Dad was pulling up behind our car with my sister Andrea (at that time she was attending a private school nearby my father’s workplace). I called to my father, the only man I knew who could fix all problems.

“There’s a car accident.”

My father raced down the road to calculate the damage of the injured man in the vehicle. Another woman came to his aid, three minutes later. Someone else called 911. Another man started to direct cars around the chaos.

“I love this.” I, specifically, remember saying.

My sister Elizabeth turned to me shocked, appalled that those words would dare to leave my lips.

“How can you say that?”

“Our whole neighborhood is helping each other.” I smiled.

Even as a fourteen year-old child, I knew what community looked like, each person lending a helping hand to assist in the tragedy of an acquaintance.

In sociology, we coin modern relationships as those based on common interests whereas in the good old days we created friendships though utility: I was your friend because you gave me the cows, and I gave you a horse. Nowadays, we have become self-sufficient. Our world has become obsessed with this idea of “self.” Befriending others only makes sense if they have the same interests. Everyone is on their own for their survival.

The Linden Community where I serve, has had a car accident, except no one knows how to help and many don’t want to help. The pieces of glass have flown way past the radius of the car affecting all surrounding it’s mass.

In the middle of this wreck are two car doors providing a bit of shelter where young men and women from other communities decide to push past the boundaries of self and utility. With a bit of a fight, these survivors leave a bit stronger and pick up the parts left from the accidents … they come back to this mini-shelter, and they start directing the traffic … they start to drag their family … friends … neighbors to bring them to healing. And soon enough the chaos is slowing down, with members of the community directing traffic, going into vehicles to handle the injured, calling more people for help.

With all these young men and women coming from different places … community will eventually come.

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