The Fable of Community, Market and Charity

January 14th, 2016

Community, Market and Charity are siblings.

For millions of years community worked slowly developing a pattern in which everyone contributed and everyone had a home. Starting with single cells . . . trying this species then another . . . always building fertility into itself . . . making room for more and more species.

Human had a home in Community for many years until Market evolved. Humans really took to market. In Community every one contributes and everyone has a home. In Market wealth creates wondrous advances in understanding and tools and all manner of things but not every one contributes and not every one has a home.

Market is younger, stronger and faster than Community. It is also arrogant . . . believing that it does not need community. The arrogance persists to this day in spite of the scars it has left on the earth, like the scar in the once fertile crescent. Market consumes community and without the support of community civilizations collapse. Without Community as an alternative, the individuals of the many species have no home.
 

No one wrote down the sequence of loss of species as Market took over first one locality and then another. There is data but no understanding of loss of Community in Human habitats today. But, as Market tried to take over the last vestiges of community it does run up against resistance. One such place is Yellowstone. When Market came to Yellowstone Human was its biggest supporter. Wolf was strongly opposed and Human drove Wolf out to allow Market in. Bear and Elk did well with Market and Market brought in crowds.

As Market began to operate in Yellowstone Community began to lose ground. Beaver and Moose suffered from the loss of Willow. When Beaver's dams broke Fish lost a place to spawn, the stream banks eroded taking away the home of Micro Organisms and the fertility that before built up season over season began to wash away with each spring run off.

Human began to see that Market without Community was out of balance. First they stopped feeding bears and that helped but was not enough. So Human went to find Wolf. Wolf returned and drove Elk to the ridge lines. Beaver and Willow and Moose returned. Micro Organism once again builds fertility into Yellowstone season over season.

 

When Market drives out Community a place loses its soul. The people of that place lose purpose and meaning in their lives. No matter how much these people get from Market they cannot fill that hole. Instead, to compensate, Charity evolved to salve the emptiness of Market and tend to the worst of the symptoms caused by a lack of Community.

Without Community species begin losing their homes and can no longer contribute to building fertility for all. In addition, the people who have no home in the market suffer, and in the search for enough to get by some tend to crime and violence.  Species once at home in community become pests to be poisoned.  Where Market prevails to the exclusion of Community the people and the local environment are impoverished.

Perhaps Human can help Market and Charity to see that they need Community in order to thrive. Perhaps individual humans can learn to use their power/responsibility/opportunity to influence the development of Community in their localities as those with influence at Yellowstone did.

If you, the reader, would like to learn to use your power/responsibility/opportunity to build community in your locality you can start with an Agent of Habitat.

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  • David Braden IV, Executive Director, Living Systems Institute
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