The older I’m getting I’m realizing how cold and harsh the world can be, how unforgiving it can get. To have people in your life who know you and have watched you enter different phases in your life, whether as a friend, a family member, a teacher, or a neighbour— this is a huge blessing that we should not take for granted. Lately I’ve been wondering if these kind of community bonds are disappearing, or if I ever really experienced it at all.
I first had this thought when I was in Somalia, I was really envious of the bonds my cousins had with their community. I remember one night we were woken up by a wailing and loud banging on the door- it must’ve been around 2am. Everyone in the house gathered around the door and opened it to find one of their neighbours. Between her tears she announced that her sister, who was around 2 years old, passed away moments ago from an illness. My family started to cry with her and they all hugged and cried together.
As I watched this happen in front of me, I said my condolences, stayed for a bit, and after, as I headed back to my room, I remember thinking that I would not have this reaction for my neighbour (as sad as that sounds) nor do I think they would have this reaction for me. Would we even open the door for each other at 2am?
This, to me, what really sucks about living in cities. Everyone is so far apart. Even if you think about the concept of the “nuclear family” we are taught here, it wipes out the idea of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins being apart of our lives.
When did cities on this side of the world become like this? And why? It turns out it was pushed for during the industrial revolution. As the concept of corporate life started to form, they needed people to put more hours into the economy:
“Parsons (1955) maintains that the isolated nuclear family was a response to the requirements of an industrialized economy because this type of family unit allowed the occupational, social, and geographical mobility that is necessary for such a system. It also fosters evaluations and rewards that are based on individual occupational achievement rather than on familism and family loyalty.
Kinship ties are viewed as interfering with the efficiency of universally oriented organizations. Parsons considers the American family to have reached a high degree of isolation, as the society has reached a high level of industrialization…”INDUSTRIALIZATION AND THE FAMILY: A WORLD VIEW
International Journal of Sociology of the Family
This isolation is further pushed for to help drive consumerism. If you think about it, consumerism is defined as “the idea that increasing consumption of goods purchased is always a desirable goal, and that a person’s happiness depends fundamentally on obtaining material possessions.” It’s crazy how much companies rely on this isolation to make a profit. Both from the production end and the consumption end. This lifestyle is at the expense of our health, for the benefit of another’s pockets.
I’d rather miss out on “making it” in life, if it means I create deeper bonds during my time on this earth. You can keep that ladder.
Wherever we can, let’s try to search for bonds
But much more than this, seeing other people grow, seeing their successes, being invested in them, it’s like living a life with multiple experiences, multiple joys, multiple lessons. This is the beauty of platonic love. I really reject the notion that platonic love isn’t as deep-rooted and heart-felt as any other kind of love. I’m so grateful for the family and friends who are in my life, and who have witnessed all shades of me. I’m grateful for unexpected friendships, sisterhood, and those I’ve met in passing who I’ve connected with.
No one can accomplish anything great alone. We all have thing we want to accomplish and taking the time to take care of the people around you will only make you a better person, not hinder you. I really think the path to wisdom is empathy because once you realize that other peoples struggles are no different than your own, you’ll be able to learn at a much faster rate because you are absorbing lessons without having to experience it.
Let me know what you think!