Privilege Blog

What Is Your Community, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:14am

Our air has cleared; our weather is beautiful. I deadheaded my roses a bit this morning, which I like to do intermittently in between writing and dishes and other strategic initiatives. That was a joke. All around my suburban neighborhood, people have opened their windows. Flung widely, I imagine.

We have lost a great woman. This morning I had a hard time thinking of what to write that would be true to how I feel but neither electoral nor partisan. Look to the source. Here’s what Ginsburg said:

“…do something outside yourself. Something to repair tears in your community.”

Granted, she made the remark in the context of being a professional, and doing something to help the less fortunate, but I am well-served by this fragment. Especially if deconstructed. Because if you read just those words, over and over again, you have no choice to ask yourself, “But who is my community?” Or even, “What is my community?”

We know the dangers of narrow belonging. We wind up on a ledge overlooking hate. My community is only people who look like me; it’s only people in my country; it’s only people and to hell with creatures at large. But I also I think that defining your community too broadly, bear with me, can support inaction. The cosmic Love Is All rubrics calm us but is that what’s needed now? Because if my community is every atom of the universe, I can’t repair those tears.

What community are you a part of?

For example, if we consider, without rage if possible, the issue of abortion. Some may define their community as all sparks which have taken that first step towards potential life as a human. They cheer a Supreme Court that might roll back current laws. Other people may define their community as all the young women housing those same sparks unable to imagine bringing them to term. This group is terrified right now.

Some may see their community as all of the above. Heal the tears. I don’t know how, I only know that that’s a right intention.

It’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. There’s a term in Jewish thought, tikkun olam. Heal the world.

I think you have to make your heart as large as you can. Like the Grinch, if you will, like Horton Hearing a Who if we are secular. But it’s really difficult to feel large love. Love makes us vulnerable, and in that state we’re tempted to protect ourselves with philosophies of acceptance or hatred. I want to fight from a generous space.

What is your community?

My comments are back on. You are my community. As always, you can yell at me, intelligently, but not at each other. I hope you have a good weekend and Shana Tovah to all who celebrate.

33 Responses

  1. My first comment upon learning about Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s death last
    evening was to send a facebook post: “I am not ready for a world with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
    Then this morning, I sent out my thought for the day, something I’ve been doing each morning
    for about a decade, that said: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that
    will lead others to join you.” Ms. Ginsburg’s words encourage me to carry on.


  2. Lisa, I have worried about the fires in California with apocalyptic scenes of chemical skies and animals
    trapped. I am so glad that you have cleaner air to breathe.
    Ginsberg’s death is an unstoppable force. Yet, it marks a deepening of the schism that is effecting this country.
    I am going to vote. I will continue to be charitable.
    We have no choice but to move forward whether we like it or not.

  3. I’m so glad your weather has settled down and you can again breathe freely. Yes, we have to think outside ourselves and be a part of the community. I see myself as being part of several communities; my family, my city and of course, the writing community. I am trying to help my community by adhering to lockdown laws and by encouraging others to do the same. It’s tough but it’s not going to last forever. As with your fires, this, too, shall pass.

  4. These days the idea of “my community” is my family, and then, the world -all of it. I’m absolutely gutted by her death.

    1. @KSL, I too am gutted. Did you read the Pro Publica article predicting the northward move of habitable climates? I have felt it already, so have you, I’m sure. I understand the need to draw closer to family. <3 I am hoping to widen my circle again once the pandemic is over.

  5. What a beautiful post! I have shed many tears since learning of the death of the wonderful Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Such an inspiring woman who achieved so much with intelligence and humility.

  6. The death of RBG yesterday caught me off guard to such a degree that I kept repeating, “Oh my god, no,” over and over while my house host said an increasingly concerned, “What? What?” from a nearby room. Last night I cried for her, not something I usually do. My house host poured each of us a bit of red wine, and we toasted, with gratitude, her astonishing, well-lived life. My community is my family, my friends, my neighborhood, my social media connections spread out across the world, my tribal affiliations, and as Kathy said above, the world, all of it. Thank you for the beautiful piece, Lisa. It is comforting and well said. xo.

  7. Here in Maryland we spent 3-4 days with white skies, no impact on air quality as it was high up, courtesy of California. It was 5 degrees cooler than the original forecast because of the skies. I guess I belong to the Fire Impacted Community now.

    That’s cleared out, but it’s my understanding things are still burning. I’ll find out when I talk with my sister this afternoon. On the bright side, I now video chat with my relatives with regularity.

    1. @RoseAG, My family video chats every Saturday evening! It’s become pretty fun, after the initial difficulties of figuring out this new context. Sorry you had some of our smoke, on the other hand, I think that it might be good for these effects to be felt all across the country and even the world.

  8. I’ve been virtual schooling with my 6 year old GS and this week one of the daily lessons with his teacher has been: What is a community? They’ve talked about communities as a family, a classroom, a town, etc.. And then they were asked to offer examples of what they can do for their communities. Out of the mouths of babes, their responses included: be kind, help clean up, wear my mask, show respect. Would that more grown-ups could hear and follow their example.

    1. @Mary, Ah how lovely! Thank you. Please tell your boy an older person in California is glad his teacher asked the question and that he’s been thinking about the answers<3.

  9. Here in Palm Springs the smoke has cleared and the hellish heat has somewhat dissipated. We’re almost at seasonal average temps, but the summer was ridiculous with no escaping due to COVID cases spiking. My community has gotten smaller (temporarily) but my gratitude has gotten larger. I was trying to find my new normal and then RBG died. I found myself sobbing and feeling a little crazy for the emotional response to someone I have never met. Hearing that so many others have had similar responses to her passing has been comforting to me. I can no longer watch the news, not even a little bit. It hurts me that our country is so divided and EVERYTHING is hyper-political. I want to mourn the loss of this great woman and it makes me very sad that our leaders are behaving so callously.

  10. Hello Lisa, Today you beautifully expressed the sentiments of many people. We all have so many communities and identities, and mine have been doubled since moving to a new country. The good news is that I just got my absentee ballot, and I intend to put it to good use.

    This is a true story. When I called the Cuyahoga Board of Elections to inquire about my ballot, I got a recorded message: “You have reached the Absentee department. No one is here right now.”

  11. My husband and I are feeling bereft. And, we know RBG tried so hard to stay with us. We are heartbroken. Over the last weeks I have been thinking about civil discourse and whether it is possible with some people. I live in a conservative state, but have found a community here that I can converse with without fear. I have strong feelings about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body. I am pro choice. And, with that I feel sad that women sometimes have to make that hard choice. Why can’t we come together with understanding?

    1. @Liz, Bereft is a good word. It should be possible to take a position where one is pro-choice, and still feel very sad that the hard choice has to be made sometimes. These days, voices in fear drown out moderation.

  12. RBG was a force in life. She contributed much to society. She will be remembered and greatly missed.

    Community under COVID has shown the many divides we live with. Some ethnic groups more impacted than others highlights the economic divides as well. COVID in many ways identifies the work to be done to improve society for the good of all.

    1. @Susan, It’s so easy to imagine that some force or entity is trying to teach us multiple lessons right now. I’m glad you are paying attention.

  13. I am so blessed by your focus on healing the tears, and your eloquent, powerful, gentle exposure of the ways tears happen. I read this post aloud to Laura and Pamela, and shared it on Facebook. ( I hope that’s okay! ) Keep shining your light.

  14. I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the news. RBG tried so hard to live for us. It’s so difficult not to feel the stress or the danger our country is in. We’re waiting for our absentee ballots to arrive and will vote as soon as they do.

  15. SO you turned off comments because your READERS were yelling at each OTHER?!!
    I LOVE IT!WE must have gotten POLITICAL………..!
    How many MORE DAYS?I was COUNTING and now have lost track…….
    KEEP DEADHEADING They will bloom into OCTOBER for us Northern California GALS…………

  16. What is my community? I have been asking that question a great deal lately. The schisms of this year have pointed out the fault lines in the place I now live, and even though I have recently found deeper friendships, I have asl become aware that this may not be the place for me. Yes the Pro Publica article and climate change may change things; they have certainly prompted a deep questioning of what I want the later portion of this life to be. My children are planning on moving when my grandson goes to college. I may move as well, even as I acknowledge that as I age it is harder to find community without the crutches of work, or in my case relationship. Maybe that will change. Maybe not. For me, now it is family, a few friends and holding simultaneously closely to my heart and yet lightly, allowing those birds to fly rather than being trapped like the proverbial canaries in a coal mine.

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