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How can we help people in our communities connect more deeply with each other?

In the past few months, we have witnessed mass murders committed by mentally-incompetent individuals, the release of female captives held by a socio-path, and the public's obsession with a sexually-explicit trial. In each case, we witness symptoms of a failure to address the tension between individual liberties and privacy against the need to create meaningful bonds between people to prevent dehumanization and hopelessness. Beyond the scope of law enforcement and the judicial system, how can we engage residents so that they can plug into communities to prevent despair, anger, and voyeurism. Many programs around the country work toward these ends. What are some of the success stories that address the root problems and inspire others to take local action?

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    • May 11 2013: I like your suggestion a lot, ZX!
      As an individual who is probably considered 'odd' by the other residents who live in this small town, I really appreciate it when someone takes the time and effort to get to know me. And you're right, friendships have actually risen out of it!
      Seriously, though, this is a good suggestion, as long as it doesn't become a field day for vigilante behavior!
      It comes down to communication, something we tend to forget how to do. When we learn how to communicate, we can learn how to get to know others on a less superficial level.
    • May 11 2013: When we take time to get to know the outliers, it allows us to develop our own compassion since everyone has a story. Sharing that story with just one individual can be a flashlight in a dark tunnel. This reminds me of the importance of projects that seek to record community history. The results can be a source of community pride.
      • May 13 2013: The outliers do not necessarily present themselves for introductions or openly discuss their views of the world. They are outliers for a reason. They are outside of the norm. Just because you dress differently, listen to music most of us have never heard, or seem unapproachable does not constitute outlier. Forgive me if I seem to be preaching...just trying to tie how the outliers would be the a key to develop a deep connection to the community. Seems to me that identifying the outliers is another word for Profiling. In my opinion there will always be an individual with the need to cause chaos, be different. A community can offer all the best intended social programs, which may or may not have the potential to yield positive outcomes. However the idea of creating deeper ties does not start at the level of a community but at the lower rung, the smallest yet most important level, the Family setting. There the outliers are either brought into the fold of the community or are further pushed out. Hopefully, the Family is strong enough to offer the love, caring and guidance that will allow an indivual or group to choose the path that ties to the overall community. The fight against despair, anger, voyeourism starts at home with loving parents (however the make up of that family). In my opinion the one community program that is lacking today is the development and strengthening of families.
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    May 12 2013: Big question, with so many parts to its answer. Motivation would seem to me to be one of the keys here. That is what is the motivator for the individual/corporations behaviour? In turn, how can this be enhanced/supported or reduced/negated/eliminated. Who or what would be arbitrator of such decisions and how would they be effected or monitored? In society people are conditioned to act according to socially accepted norms of behaviour. Problems occur generally when these are flouted. A community is a collection of people, however, it is generally only a very tiny percentage (the proverbial rotten apple) that acts in the worst possible ways. In this regard, it would seem that the best way to connect our communities is to have a structure of the majority connected so that the minority can be detected and dealt with according to local law/custom. People however would need to be more proactive in their observation of their world as they go about their daily business and the institutions, like the police would need to take heed of snippets of information which makes its way to them, to ultimately become the whole picture of what may be going on when they piece it all together. Big brother cctv could also help play a part as those citizens doing nothing wrong should have nothing to worry about in what should also be a transparent system of monitoring (it is pretty well happening already). Governmental initiated campaigns could promote internet interest groups for people in their society, so that they can feel included in it by association with other like minded individuals. Criminally minded associations would need psychological assessments of rehabilitative programs that could be initiated thru a co ordinated professional approach. In this way at least the rotten in society would have society keeping an eye on them and society would be trying to get them back on the straight and narrow before they stray off the track! :D
  • May 11 2013: Ahhh! The lovely Margaret Mead. One brick means the foundation has begun, now add the sweat & love.
  • May 10 2013: I live in a very small town and getting people together to do anything is like pulling teeth unless they can benefit by it - meaning money.
    I could talk myself stupid trying to get something done here to help folks and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. The local care center even is now a "cash cow". People donate stuff and what is deemed good, goes right on EBay and sold. The money from those sales goes right into waiting pockets of those running care center. It's all about GREED!!!!
    I have no answer for you except: Pick one person you wish to help and do so.
    That works fine for me.
    • May 11 2013: Gale, it's pretty much the same story here.
      I like your answer - it all begins with helping one individual, doesn't it? Like Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
  • May 10 2013: Let's try this. Describe some local community projects that help residents, at various ages, connect to each other,.
    • May 11 2013: Scouting
      Habitat for humanity
      Computer training classes at the local library
      Community college
      Clean the Bay Day, or similar environmental volunteer efforts
      Children's sports programs
      Political Activism
      • May 11 2013: Let's discuss this a bit more. Relate how art can bring people together.
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    May 10 2013: boy you write in a complicated fashion, can you say it in a simpler, less dry way? I think you have the beginning of a great conversation here.
  • May 10 2013: Stop sensationalizing the stories. Tell them with fact, but do not belabor or give them more attention than they deserve.
    • May 11 2013: Do you mean the media, Robert?
      But if they did that, the ratings would plummet... and that's not about to happen, is it.
      • May 11 2013: Yes, I meant the media...and no it is not about to happen currently.

        I see sensationalizing the bad in the world as exploiting a human flaw to be curious about the dirt in a situation. Those that have spent a life time trying to abide by the laws and protect their families from such cataclysmic events shake their heads in disgust at both the act, and the bombardment by the media on the viewing, reading or listening public about the different perspectives, insights, viewpoints and grizzly details about the events. I think such sensationalism is creating an environment where the imbalanced, detached, depressed, or those just unhappy with what life has brought them, see an opportunity to go out in a blaze of what appears to be glory. I believe there to be a false association made, somehow equating criminal notoriety with fame.

        I would like to see there be a required ethical balancing of time in the media modes where a message is actively broadcast or projected, with stories of personal inspiration, hallmark moments, personal achievement, people over coming adversity, or similar "Happy" things. I do not suggest we force a positive perspective, but i do think that changing the balance to one that reflects a true cross-section of the actual behavior of the general public should be a priority.
        • May 11 2013: This is a great approach. Counterbalancing the sensational with the personal can show how little things can mean a great deal to people and advance rather than devolve mankind.
        • May 12 2013: Robert, thank you for this!
          I seem to remember, long ago, when there would be segment dedicated to this on the evening news.
          When I was in grade school, we gathered and talked about current affairs, and more often than not, the small, seemingly insignificant, but definitely positive news items were the ones that made the largest impact on our class.
          We talked about the long-term effects of desensitization, which I, at the time, couldn't really imagine.

          Now, 30 years later, I personally have been confronted with desensitization. At a culturally enriching 2-day workshop I participated in, a few hundred kids from a local high school could choose an activity, two of which were 'short films' and 'animation'. At the end of the day, the works were presented.
          I was horrified when these films and animations were presented. Every one, I am not exaggerating, every single one contained violence, profanity, 'blood-and-guts' in one way or another. The rest of the kids laughed, clapped and were thoroughly entertained.

          Whether this has to do with how the news is presented, or the media in general, I don't know. I know that it concerns me, though!