We are definitely experiencing winter in northwest Montana. As the traveling bookstore sits encased in snow, it is an opportunity to consider the differences between an individual and a community. There is the current US president who seems very much focused on himself as an individual. And there are the numerous rallies and protests happening across the US and in other countries that are focused on community. It gives pause to think about the value of each.
There is something to be said for someone who stands up for what she or he believes, or who sets out on a journey to follow a particular quest. We can certainly ask though if that individual’s aspirations provide only personal benefit or do they benefit – or impede – others? One voice shouting out above everyone else could be beneficial considering the particular situation. Or that voice could be egotism plain and simple. “Listen to me. I am the one who knows what you should be doing.”
Then there is a community where ideally people work together to help a neighbor who lost a house to a fire, or support a much needed school bond, or pile sandbags against an encroaching river. Recently there have been thousands and yes, hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in spontaneous communities. People from across the state came together in Helena, MT to support keeping public lands public. And there were the incredible marches on January 21 for causes ranging from healthcare to women’s rights to others that need to be heard by our legislators and affirmed. People from across the country traveled to Washington DC to speak up together. There were organizers for the marches, individuals who helped get the word out of when and where. But these individuals were part of the community, similar to someone in line piling sandbags or the person offering coffee to those helping to re-build the neighbor’s house. Its a fabric whose strength is in the weave, the tenacity of threads interwoven.
During this winter, there are strident individuals and there are growing communities. People are reaching out to each other in order to strengthen the fabric and make a harmony of voices. There are some who opened their homes to others who came from out of the area to participate in a march. There are those who provided hand-knitted hats to anyone who needed one against the winter chill. People supplied transportation, food, support; people worked together towards a common good. Its winter but there is warmth in numbers.