With the onslaught (particularly in Western civilization) of modernization, industrialization, and technology, people have become more isolated from each other and from the local community where they may live. At one time in our human history people used to know the names of everyone in the tribe or neighborhood. They ate, played, washed clothes, watched each other’s children, fixed each other’s broken-down equipment, worshipped God together in kivas and outdoor arenas, helped raise the animals, and often shared the same modes of transportation (horses, chariots, wagons, etc.). The following specifics are some of the reasons why community has been lost in present-day civilization.
When the worship of God went into buildings, people lost touch with the idea of God being in nature—not that pantheism is correct, not that God lives in a tree, but the idea that God created the tree. So people’s minds no longer “clicked” with the idea of God (as Creator) being in the trees, the earth, the fruits, the vegetables, and the water in creeks, lakes, and rivers. Instead, God lived in an altar inside a building. In both Catholic masses and Protestant services, the Eucharist (the bread or wafer) given at communion took the place of communal meals, of people eating together. The priest or pastor took on the role of representing God rather than people seeing God in each other because the priest and pastor became the focal point of everyone in the congregation’s eyes; they were up front.
The modern laundromats—where people go and wash and dry their clothes and usually talk to no one else—as well as having a washing machine in each home, took the place of women in communities doing these kinds of things together. There was a time when many women washed their clothes in local creeks or rivers together in groups and made washing clothes a day of fun, often swimming in the creek or river and bringing their children. But today the creeks and rivers are polluted because of greed that rules industry and unsustainable development that does not have the environment or the area’s residents in mind.
Restaurants emphasize the selling of served food and often do not consider a friendly environment that encourages strangers talking with each other. People today go to restaurants with one or perhaps a few other people and talk only to those in their party. Although the restaurant may be crowded, the idea is not to relate with anyone else. That is not the way of communities and tribes in the history of this planet. Eating was a time of communication with each other, of laughing, of sharing the day’s experiences, of inviting strangers into the conversations and getting to know them. The art of stimulating and friendly conversation has been lost among most.
Even the beginning coffee houses—that started in Europe as places of poetry, art, music, and passionate conversation—have changed to: “Where can I get the best cup of coffee? Oh yeah, Starbucks! I can bring my laptop there and I don’t have to talk to anybody.” As a matter of fact, if you try to really converse with someone, they may take you the wrong way and be suspicious of your motives in trying to be friendly, so people do not even try to be friendly today. Women may think the men are trying to “come on” to them (and men vice versa) if they try to start up a conversation, because most men do not know how to be friends with women today. Thus most women do not approach men for simply friendly communication with no sexual strings attached.
People are lonely in modern civilization. You can live in a city of several million people and feel very alone, because society has grown to not trust each other or speak to each other or even care about each other. A true community of people is supposed to do all of that and more. That is what communal living is all about.
Jesus never intended for church-community gatherings to be the mega-churches of today, with thousands of people. Many of these mega-church pastors say, “Well we have group home meetings.” That is a start towards community building within a huge church, but are there enough real elders to care for the spiritual and emotional needs of such a large number of people? How much did it cost to build that mega-church that seats thousands of people, even up to 10,000–15,000? Many of those mega-church gatherings have more of an emphasis on entertainment, concerts, or events like speakers who are the world’s tallest Christian or the world’s shortest Christian.
All people have a need for love and to be loved, to be guided and to be cared for, particularly the elderly when they get older. But today many elderly are sent to assisted-living homes because their families are separated, with many family members living in different cities or states because this is where they work. And the aging parents now have to go to these elder-care homes where exorbitant prices are charged for their care. In a community that is organized with the love of the elderly in mind, the elderly are cared for when they are old and sick and dying. Many older people in community live longer and are more active and fulfilled because, although they may not have their biological grandchildren with them, they do have many children they can care for and who love them and call them Grandmother and Grandfather.
Society has learned to put not only the elderly in institutions but the young too, who cannot deal with the lack of love in a materialistic, modern society. These often brilliant and talented young people are diagnosed as bi-polar or some other label and given drugs as the answer to their mental malaise. So these young people carry the stigma of some mental illness that psychiatrists have labeled them with, when all they actually need is a community of people loving and watching over them and an eldership guiding and helping them to meet their individual destinies that God has ordained for them. Many of these dysfunctional teens and young adults come from single-parent families because of divorce, and the one parent does not suffice for two loving parents as well as an extended family.
The idea of a highest destiny for a young person is lost in modern-day society, because the relatives of that youth or child are no longer in the same neighborhood. Not too many relatives can really observe that child on a daily basis and see his or her developing talents, and so the child cannot be guided and given the tools and instruments within that communal care to meet his or her destiny. This is why some troubled young people are killing each other in schools in mass shootings because these individuals (even though they may be living with parents and have relatives) are not really living in a loving communal reality.
Many of these children end up in wrong careers and have to take jobs instead of getting an education for their true vocation or being trained in a career because there is no real elder guiding them in the right direction. So they end up taking jobs in labor, retail stores, factories, law enforcement, and the postal service or join the military whenever they are of age, because they cannot afford a quality guitar to become a musician or paint and brushes to become an artist or any kind of education to become what is in their hearts to become. So their dreams are lost very early in life, and many of their parents push them to earn a living rather than follow their hearts. Some musicians do not get a quality guitar until they are in their thirties or forties and by then they are really too old to do much in their career. This is not true of everyone, but there are thousands of individuals who simply do not have the money to buy the training or the tools and equipment they need to make their dreams come true.
On the other side of the coin, many musicians—like Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, even Whitney Houston—die very young and even commit suicide, because they lost their way due to having no eldership or having a lost sense of family connection to guide them into their proper use of talents. When you sing or write a song that teaches something to help a person grow, that is usually your gifts for God and for humanity—not just singing a romantic song about a lost love or a new love. Without the purpose of educating or uplifting others with your talents, your talents have no real purpose. And many of these artists who become famous find that out all too late.
Many of these artists, who realize they have talent, think they have to go off to Hollywood or New York, cut a record, become famous, make millions, and that is the way to success. But true success is the relationships that you live everyday within a communal family who love you and you love them. So modern television shows, like Entertainment Tonight and Insider that propagate stardom, are shows that feed poison to the minds of the young people who watch them.
Modern magazines that are flashy, sexual, and supposedly hip have taken the place of true art and literature. Magazines, television, the computer social network, and even radio have taken the place of family gatherings and community gatherings where people just converse with each other face-to-face, sharing how the day went, sharing talents, and maybe even cooking some special dessert or bread for everybody. So the art of communal interrelationships has been lost to modern media in all its forms of propaganda, selling Western civilization on the latest movie star, sports hero, clothes, makeup, and all the things they say you need to be happy—when all you need to really be happy is be surrounded by loving family and friends.
Modern amusement parks—with all their rides, games of chance, haunted houses, and live entertainment—have taken the place of communal activities such as hiking in nature, boating, fishing, and horse riding. Instead of just jumping on a horse in an amusement park and going around in a circle, adopt a horse and get to know it by everyday helping to feed and brush it. You will find out that the horse has a “horse-onality” too and loves the human attention. Amusement parks were built for people who live in cities in urban realities.
The problem with most urban realities is they really are inhumane realities. And today’s cities, with millions of people, are cities of distortion and delusional energies. (See The Cosmic Family, Volume I, Paper 215 for more information on these energies that cause erratic and disturbed behavior.) In order for society today to come back to sanity, people need to come back to the land, to the earth, to rural and communal living.
People need to come out of living in toxic boxes, because most of the housing built is not built with non-toxic materials in mind. They contain chemicals in the paint, and the plaster, and the carpets, and people die of cancers because of these chemicals and toxins. The cities can temporarily still be places where people work but should not be where they live permanently. They should try to make their living within the community income businesses that serve the world at large, and in this manner they do not even have to drive to work.
People are not made by God to live crammed in crowded high-rises, apartment buildings, and so on. They are not meant to live surrounded by cement and asphalt. They are meant to live in natural settings because in nature is the essence of the Universe Mother Spirit. And people need to experience Her spirit everyday—not just once a week or once month when you maybe get away from the city, but on an everyday basis, interacting with the grass, hugging a tree, going in the creek, or putting your feet in a pond and watching the ducks play in it. Basically human beings become crazed in some way in city life. They become despondent, angry, lonely, feeling inadequate, and often overeat to try to replace that emptiness that they feel from urban life.
The world seems to be getting more inhospitable. There is unrest all over the world because people have lost touch with each other, and leaders have lost touch with the people. This is a breeding ground for rebellion, anarchy, and war.
I am calling for people to move to the country, live in a communal situation with individuals, grow your own food, have a good water source, build green, and have as many things in common as possible with your extended communal family. If the economic crisis gets worse, you may find you may not have any choice but to do this, and by then (if you wait too long), it may be too late for the survival of yourself, your children, and grandchildren.
Gabriel of Urantia