A Community of Kindness
A community is more than streets, stores, schools, and the people who occupy and use them. A community is built from countless threads of connection, woven of myriad small and large gestures of kindness and caring. Here are some recent examples of how a community is constantly being renewed in our own town:
At a concert being presented by a group of local high school students, the director of the group took time in his introduction to acknowledge the presence in the audience of two people who had helped him early on – one a volunteer who chaperoned one of the early trips made by the group in its first day, another a former school administrator who had worked with him early in his career at the high school.
Why was this important? Of course, the pleasure given to the two audience members was considerable. More importantly, the young people who are now part of the singing group were made to think about the past history of the group, and the people who had contributed to its success. Moreover, they could see that those early supporters are still in their audience, still supporting them. Community comes from continuity.
An octogenarian friend of mine parked her car at the Ranch lot and walked across the Foothill expressway to attend an event at the church on the opposite corner. This section of road has no sidewalk, and she slipped and fell on the gravel aggregate. (Our pretensions of being a rural community do have their drawbacks.) A young man whose truck was stopped at the light saw her fall. Rather than continuing on his way, he went through the light, made a U-turn in the Rancho lot, and came back through the light to stop and make sure my friend was all right and able to continue on her way. He didn’t know her, but he went out of his way to make sure. Community comes from caring.
Another friend is a student in a painting class for cancer survivors, taught by a local artist who volunteers her time. This teacher went to see the production of “The Pitmen Painters” which appeared recently in Mountain View and thought it would inspire her students. She wrote to the producer, told him about her class and asked whether a group discount could be arranged for her students. The producer responded by sending her 20 free tickets for the class. Community comes from kindness.
There are many areas where we disagree with our neighbors, many topics which are contentious, and unfortunately many harsh words said. Fortunately, for every one of these stresses which frays the fabric of community, there are actions like those above which strengthen and reweave the fabric which supports us all.
(Published in Los Altos Town Crier March 7, 2012)