Burrowed up as we are during Minnesota winters, not to mention the aggressive isolation that comes upon drivers these months, “community” (or lack thereof) is a topic of special interest bordering on preoccupation. Yesterday’s post celebrated the distinctive way Minnesotans live community when we are at our best. An article I’ve seen bouncing around a few of the Twitter sites I follow highlights the consequences when we – not just Minnesotans – are not at our best.
Anna Nussbaum Keating looks at what happens when we disassociate love and sex in “Separation-Anxiety.” Keating’s springboard is the recent NYTimes article by Kate Taylor. “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too” describes a world of ambitious Penn undergraduates who put their personal interests and their résumés above relationship and inter-personal commitment. Forces of winter isolation in Minnesota are discouraging enough. So please indulge my diversion to a potentially transformative observation culled from this flurry of February angst.
Perhaps you already know Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. Keating recounts a fascinating story from Gladwell’s bestseller about the people from the village of Roseto, Italy:
In the 1800s villagers from Roseto migrated to a town in Pennsylvania, where they created a prosperous community for themselves. Traveling physicians noted that, despite eating a high fat diet and exercising no more than normal, no one in the village of Roseto suffered from heart disease. There was also no suicide or violent crime. Rosetans lived long lives and died of old age. Nothing could be found in their genes to explain this anomaly. Researchers finally concluded that their close-knit community must be the source of their good health: multi-generational families living under one roof, neighbors knowing one another and stopping to chat in the street, respect for children and the elderly and everyone getting together for church on Sunday. The medical community had previously made the materialist assumption that only things such as genes, diet and exercise could be the cause of longevity, but Roseta proved what had already been codified in religion and myth: communities and relationships matter.
Jesus implores us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Childhood immaturity and the rebellion that comes with adolescence understandably dismiss this “commandment” as hopelessly naive, onerous and old-fashioned. Seeing the selfless love of my nephews and nieces who are parenting, or knowing the utter relief of discovering that an anonymous neighbor has snow-blown our driveway, confirms for me that it is in fact the Way, the Truth and the Life!