Doug's 2023 Christmas Greeting

“On Community, Volunteerism, Loneliness and Human Face-to-Face Interaction”

Coming out of the worst of COVID and returning to some kind of normalcy, or at least “new normal”, I think we all experienced a heightened need for ‘community’. The stay-at-home, work-at-home, social distancing, cancelling of public events and congregating made us suddenly realize that such alienation would and could lead to isolation, loneliness, depression and discouragement. We lost our sense of community, social interaction, teamwork and association. In this past year of 2023, we seemed to come alive as we once again moved about, joined in, socialized, participated and enjoyed a reunion of community.

The importance of community and the benefits can not be overstated. This includes our own giving of time, skills and efforts for the enrichment, prosperity and welfare of our town. Dr. Dorothy Height, a well-known educator and civil rights activist (1912-2010) said, “Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.”

George Bernard Shaw had this to say expressing his own feelings of community and self-service. "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” Obviously, George had no quarrel with John Donne who wrote, “No man is an island”.

COVID forced us to retire or retreat to our own homes and bubbles, but sometimes I fear there is another means by which we are losing opportunities for face-to-face interaction, teamwork, genuine personal service and the kind of interaction a society once knew in years in which family and neighbours worked together and really depended on each other.  Our technology today is replacing human cashiers, bank tellers, personal customer support and while huge corporations become even larger and fewer in numbers, local levels of service have either thinned out or disappeared.  Consider local print and electronic media with its dissolving coverage of local news and information. While a significant number of individuals feel out of touch, as a whole, our community is losing its collective voice and identity.  Collective voice informs, teaches, directs, includes and embraces individuals and a community as a whole.  Technology is suppose to advance our society and in many ways it does.  While we can shop from home, bank, learn and communicate from home, a price is paid by way of losing genuine, face-to-face social and communicative interaction.

One way to take back your community is to get out there, get involved and volunteer at what you are good at, or even at what you may not be so good at.  You'll be welcomed and appreciated.  Volunteerism encompasses service, teamwork, giving and sharing.  Speaking of volunteerism, did you know that volunteers have a lower mortality rate than non-volunteers? This was gleaned from research by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a U.S. federal agency. It reads that volunteer activities introduce “a positive reinforcing cycle of good health and future volunteering.”  It’s also been found to fight depression and loneliness! The 2011 United Nations State of the World's Volunteerism Report states, "volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation."

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas this past December and my wish for you is that you'll experience health and happiness and if you need involvement, get out there in the community!  Someone needs you!

Best Wishes and Hopes for a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year in 2024!
Doug & Josey McCann!