Action in the Hood #1

The folks in my neighborhood were at it again this week.  This time it was a post about the movie Obama’s America 2016 that spurred the listserv monitor to write in and remind everyone that: “The purpose of our listserv is for discussing matters related to our community such as getting recommendations for various household services, Durham City issues (street lights, speed limit, etc.), preventing crime, neighborhood social events, and the like.  This is not a forum to discuss politics, guns, religion, immigration, or other general and controversial topics.”  He added that back in 2008 when the guidelines were first released they “were generally agreed by most folks at that time.”

My first instinct was to write in and say: “Thanks for sharing the intention of the listserv.  How was consensus achieved in determining that intention?”

But while I am a huge fan of consensus, when done right it’s a tedious process, and I don’t really have the stomach for undertaking that job for the neighborhood.  Beside, back in 2008 when I was pregnant with my second child I must have let the original discussion pass without a weigh-in.  And since consensus depends on participants showing up, I have no room to complain.

Yet the restrictions on the listserv do give me pause.  As I wrote in March 2012 in a post titled Neighborly Relations, the insulation of political views on all sides of the spectrum is dangerous.  We must keep talking, especially if we disagree.  Liberty thrives on variety.  Freedom depends on critical debate and dialogue.  Debate and dialogue depend on grace and manners and a willingness to show up not only for ourselves, but for our communities.

I also quite frankly find it absurd that anyone can truly believe that we can discuss matters related to our community without that discussion being political.  For me, the personal is the political.  In my life, there is no divide between the world of spirit and the world of matter.  My philosophies — or call them religious or spiritual beliefs or simply my ideas about how to live — inform my actions in the physical world.

In the great game of life, I vote with my behaviors, choices and actions.  Everything I do in the physical realm is political, in that it manifests my philosophical agenda.

So a listserv post on the new ATVs purchased by the Durham City Police Department doesn’t merely relate the facts of the purchase.  It says that the person who posted believes in a particular type of law and order and a particular type of environmentalism.  In their opinion, the ATVs make them safer.  In my opinion, officers on bicycles would have been a nicer and safer option, not only for us but for the earth.

Also in my opinion, posts about crime in the neighborhood and posts about the authorities’ latest response serve only to fuel a climate of fear that doesn’t make any of us safer.  Telling me of the recent arrests due to the new ATVs doesn’t make that crime less likely to happen next door.  Truly getting to know my neighbors though, even if our philosophies differ, now that could.

As usual, I digress.  The bottom line is that when I read once again that I’m not to discuss politics on the neighborhood listserv, I decided it was time for a little action in the ‘hood.  And so I promptly discussed politics on the listserv by sending out an announcement that I was leaving out free annual seeds culled from our garden for anyone to pick up.

I know, anti-climatic, right?

Think about it though.  In contemporary America from whom we obtain our annual garden seeds is a political choice.

I have been thrilled to see several neighbors stopping by to pick up seeds.  Some have even offered me seeds from their own land.

Vive la Revolution!

© Jennifer S. and, 2012.


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