by David Parkinson
For those of us opposing prevailing forces in society, it sometimes feels as though we toil in obscurity. To work to preserve the environment, create a more just food system, alleviate poverty, or further any number of worthy causes is to work against the grain of a culture consumed with consuming. It takes a sort of willful attention-deficit disorder to tear one’s eyes away from the media and political spectacles to begin to see the dim outline of a world shaped around more human values.
As the whole shaky structure begins to crack, though, we need to look for ways to engage people who lose faith in the world that has been handed to them. People need hope, assurance, that they are more able to take charge of life than parents, teachers, political leaders, and the TV have led them to believe.
Simple things are what we need more than anything else: the faith that we are part of a world which offers a decent life for all creatures; the hope that things are getting better, not worse; and charity, not in the sense of scraps of wealth doled out to the pitiful poor, but in the sense of caritas, a widespread recognition that we all have roughly the same needs and wants and that we need to show basic kindness to others, especially those who suffer more than we do.
We so easily allow ourselves to be distracted by the apparent complexities of the world, losing sight of the easy things we can do to make life less painful for others. We look to Victoria, Ottawa or even further for great authority figures to supply solutions. So we imagine that we care and that we are passionate about solving the problems of the world, while conveniently letting ourselves off the hook for doing the actual legwork.
We have the power to address many problems, starting with those we feel passionate about in our own backyard. We need a more cohesive community effort at all scales and an ever-widening conversation about what we are seeing and experiencing around us. Yet we need to do this with a sense of lightness and liberation, as the overwhelming majority reclaims its natural human right to be unique, to excel and to fail, to sing and tell beautiful lies, to go off the rails, to laugh with and at one another. To be a proper working community composed of tribes and gangs and families and people. Not consumers: people.
Some folks in our community have decided to create a space for everyone who feels like celebrating all the things that belong to everyone regardless of who one is or what one owns: the land, the air, the water, the sunset, laughter, hope, celebration, and everything else we haven’t yet put a price tag on. All these things make up the commons, and the Chamber of Commoners is the place to come together to honor these things and the people who support and defend them.
The Chamber of Commoners is a social gathering, not a meeting or another new organization. No positions, pronouncements or resolutions will emerge, because it is a just a party to have fun. There will be time for community-based organisations to make announcements and to celebrate their recent achievements. Those who wish can participate in organisational “speed-dating,” an enjoyable way to get to meet people and learn about their community passions. There will be lots of opportunity to catch up with everyone all at once and to meet new people. Most of all, it’s free and open to all!
The first ever Chamber of Commoners will be on February 10, 2010, from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM in the Rainbow Room of the Rodmay Hotel in Powell River. See you there!