Strong Communities, One Crisis at a Time
by The Opportunity Agenda, Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:44:38 AM EDT
It's been said that when your neighbor loses his or her job, the economy is in recession, but when you lose your own, the economy is in depression. In addition to being overly glib, this idea has always struck me as a fundamental underestimation of the strength and compassion of our communities.
From the surge in volunteerism to the heroic efforts of food banks to meet increased demand, we are responding to the current economic downturn not by retrenching, but rather by recommitting ourselves to our obligations to one another. This may seem like a fairly dull silver lining to such an overwhelming crisis, but if you believe, as I do, that economic events are temporary but cultural events are lasting, then it is fair to assume that the current spirit of community-mindedness will drive the creation of an economy that is fairer to all of its participants. And this new, fairer economy may in fact be what prevents the recurrence of the type of events we are currently experiencing.
Perhaps no group better exemplifies this reinvigoration of community values than Millennials. As the cohort of Americans who are roughly 18 to 30 years old today, Millennials have come of age in an era of skyrocketing inequality. Their backlash to this inequality has been a commitment to community service and political participation. They understand, intuitively, that we're all in this together and that we rise and fall together. If that's the future of America, we have plenty to be optimistic about.
Read more at The Opportunity Agenda's blog.