In a post-truth world filled with the cacophony of the digital media, community becomes a secretive affair, most potently symbolised by the Zapatista in their balaclava.
Here we are less extravagant, but I love the mysteries that occur. Someone has taken their scrub bar and cleared the track down to the river. I often take a pair of secateurs with me and keep it open, but this kind soul has made it safe for another year. Who was it? And then, equally mysteriously, a piece of conceptual art has appeared in the beech trees. Someone managed to toss a cord over a high branch and then secured both ends with rocks. Kids over summer? But you’d have to tie it to something and have a strong arm to get it that high. Definitely a mystery and better than the Venice Biennale.
But community, as well as being secretive, has to be wary of the official providers of ‘community’, NGOs with fanciful names making a buck, corporations with their competitions, officialdom with its rules and regulations. Quietly slip around them, occasionally confront.
And then there is the blending of ‘democracy’ and consumerism; the call centres with their scripted enquiry, a culture which political parties seem to think is the answer. I suspect all it does is add to the cacophony.
As John Berger wrote, resistance is a pocket – but what is the shape of the pocket?
Is it the assertiveness of a newborn chick, the mysterious piece of art in the trees, the goodwill of the track clearer, the assembling of the theatre group to begin another project; the quiet and humble passing of Vicky, a woman who didn’t take up a lot of space, but made her contribution to the community?
It’s a hard task visiting the dying if you can’t offer the solace of an afterlife or of reincarnation. One talks about daily happenings which are of no relevance, almost an insult. When really, one should be singing Pete Seeger’s perfect song:
To my old brown earth
And to my old blue sky
I’ll now give these last few molecules of “I.”
And you who sing, And you who stand nearby, I do charge you not to cry
Guard well our human chain
Watch well you keep it strong
As long as sun will shine
And this our home
Keep pure and sweet and green
For now I’m yours And you are also mine