Sense of Community is Essential


Home from college for the weekend, Josie begged me to help her get into the book her English class was discussing. Briefly skimming, I picked up on some profound passages; too bad they were engulfed in enough unfriendly excess to bog down many an avid reader. Anytime one feels compelled to turn to a dictionary more than once while reading the same page, the question “How much is my time worth?” arises, a defensive ploy toward self preservation.
The book, Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs, a pertinent comment on dilemmas of today’s societies, provides much thoughtful material. I found it a shame that its editors were not conscientious enough to demand a more reader-friendly style. If a writer’s ideas wax strong enough to inspire a book, surely they are worth getting across to the most readers possible. Not to be intimidated since my daughter asked me for help, I persevered.
Jacobs states that the collapse of one sustaining cultural institution enfeebles others. She singles out 5 pillars of our culture that we depend on to stand firm, discusses what she sees as signs of decay (a process of their becoming irrelevant) and “dangerously close to the brink of lost memory and cultural uselessness.”
These 5 pillars are: 1) community and family (so tightly connected they cannot be considered separately), 2) higher education, 3) the effective practice of science and science-based technology (also too tightly connected to be considered separately), 4) taxes and governmental powers directly in touch with needs and possibilities, and 5) self-policing by the learned professions.
Says Jacobs, “Think what the adults in a nuclear family are expected to provide [!]”:


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