By Stephen Sapp
In that column, I pointed out that the derivation of our word “community” ultimately traces back to the Latin prefix cum (“with”) and the root munis (“obligatory service” or “duty”) through the compound communis, meaning “shared by all or many.” In short, our community is a group that shares, especially duties, obligations, and services. This specific understanding is still alive and well in smaller groups (think, e.g., of families, sports team, and military units), but it’s safe to say it is rapidly slipping away today in the divisiveness and individualism we see at the societal level (some would say it has already been largely lost).
It is impossible for me to cite specifics without being seen as “political,” but I’m sure we can all think of clear examples today of individuals who have set aside their sense of duty and obligation to the larger group that constitutes their community in favor of their own desires. The question, then, seems to be simple one: How can we have a “community” in any meaningful sense of the word if each of us is unwilling to modify his or her own inclinations and preferences—at least to some extent—for the common good?
For sure, this question is not a new one—it goes back at least as far as Plato’s discussion of the problem of “the one and the many” (or, if you are so inclined, all the way back to the Garden of Eden!)—and I don’t propose to solve it here. But I will nonetheless conclude by quoting my earlier column: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could think of our Lakeport community . . . as a group of people who are willing to share the responsibilities and tasks that are necessary to have the highest quality of communal life possible?” And, I am very happy to say, my experience here has been that on the whole we come close to fulfilling that wish!
I like to think that Ripples provides a medium for fostering Lakeport’s sense of community and helping us to know and appreciate the many ways our residents take seriously our shared duties and obligations. If you have comments and/or would like to submit an item for the Fall issue, please email me at email@example.com.