Saturday, July 5, 2008


I’ve been feeling like somewhat of a social orphan over the past few years. In an era where everybody seems to have their own personal community, it appears to me as if I have been overlooked. I’m sure it was not intentional. After all, oversights do happen. They happen to the best, and to the worst, of us. But I’m looking for a community to join because I’m pretty sure that the IRS, or my next employer, or a Credit Card company, or even the DMV will be asking me, on a government form or important application, ‘to which community do I actually belong?’ At this point I don’t know how they’re going to quantify, or qualify, me if they cannot even categorize me. They used to ask for my ethnicity, but I believe that’s illegal now (as it should be), or if not illegal, at least politically incorrect. ‘Community’ is rapidly taking the place of ethnicity, and I feel left out.

There’s the Conservative community, the Liberal community, the Conservative Christian community, the Fundamentalist community, the Secular community, the Secular- Progressive community, the Republican community, the Democratic community, the Native American community, the African American community, the Hispanic community, the Asian community, the Muslim community, the Feminist community, the Gay community, the Lesbian community, the Tech community, the Blue-Collar community, the Art community, the Music community, the Environmental community, the Gated community, the Community community, and so on, and so on, and so on. And each of these ‘communities’ even have sub-divisions of themselves.

I looked up ‘Caucasian Community’ in the phone book, and googled it on my computer. There doesn’t seem to be a chapter near where I live. Or anywhere else for that matter. I looked up ‘Western European Community’, ‘Old White Guy Community’, ‘Straight Caucasian Western European Guy Community’, American-born Anglo-Saxon Caucasian Straight-male Community’, ‘Middle-aged Caucasian Heterosexual-Judeo/Christian Western European American-born Community’. No Luck whatsoever.

But even more disturbing, I couldn’t find an “American Community” either.
I’ll have to keep looking.

Ever notice how the politicians who boast the loudest about being the ‘Party of the People’, who brag about being uniters, rather than dividers, who wear the ‘Social Compassion’ banner across their chest like beauty queens at a county fair, who denounce labels like they were demons unleashed, always seem to be at the forefront in creating the very divisions they pretend to so vehemently renounce? As my grandson (he’s two and a half) has taken to saying lately, “what’s the deal with that, grandpa?”

In whose interest is it to slice up a population of people like it were a pie to be served to the aristocracy at some phony political fund-raiser? As they say, “follow the money.” From the grass-roots political activist level all the way up to the White House, it is in the interest of the politicians. Divide and conquer. But to conquer, one must first divide. As a politician, maybe I designate taxes to be used to pay down our existing debt, or I allocate funds for a much-needed pedestrian sidewalk along a busy street. That would benefit everyone, but bring little notoriety to my campaign, and consequently, no one in particular would be beholding to me. But if I allocate funds for the La Raza Community Center, an Asian Cultural Center, a Jewish Memorial, a Christian Day Care Center or a Gay Pride Parade, now I have each of those ‘communities’ in my pocket. Their future votes will move me along to the next level of politics, and eventually, as far as I might like to go. If I continue to pick up other ‘communities’ along the way, then, well, the sky is the limit. Politicians understand this principle like I know my own name. If people want to divide themselves into comfortable little communities (which, by the way, is human nature), so be it. Let them raise their own money for their own special interests. But if politicians want to designate ‘communities’ as being worthy of special consideration by virtue of their very existence, it is, without exception, for political expediency. It is beyond disingenuous, it is a divisive, calculated and exploitive act, designed to pander to the population it is supposedly intended to benefit. How ugly does it need to get before we stand up and refuse to trade our dignity for another handful of colored beads?

And one last thing, lest I forget, there’s the much revered, and all-too-familiar, “International Community!” Let’s see if I understand this. An elite group of politicians, lawyers, bankers, filthy-rich industrialists and chief executives of multi-national corporations all get together, in collusion with one another, to pillage, rob and exploit the rest of us, and to determine who among themselves will be elected as leaders of the New World Order. Uh, I mean the International Community!
Is it just me, or does that sound like the mob, but without the gold chains and bad vocabulary?

I believe, as humans, we are capable of rising above our natural tendencies to divide ourselves into like-minded and like-looking groups. As a people, as a funky and disparate collection of the indigenous and the immigrant, individuals from all over the planet, in order to not be conquered by aggressive, greedy, self-serving monarchs and politicians, on a national and international scale, we must eschew the herding of ourselves into small, myopic, and isolated little communities, in favor of, and in solidarity with, the strength we can find together as Americans.

Then, perhaps, we can be of even greater significance, and more lasting value, to the world at large.