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I recently finished the book You have the power: Choosing courage in a culture of fear by Frances Moore Lappe and Jeffery Perkins; ISBN 1-58542-312-2. Please read this book. It not only outlines how we have become a fearful culture, but offers numerous stories of people who have looked beyond their fears to bring about positive changes in their communities. It also offers some practical advice for people who want to try community building where they live.
People's stories are woven into seven chapters, each of which starts out with a â€œold thoughtâ€? about fear and ends with an empowering â€œnew thought.â€? For instance, the chapter â€œThe Kayakers' Coveâ€? starts with the old thought â€œIf I'm really myself, I'll be excluded. If I break connection, I'll be alone forever.â€? The â€œnew thoughtâ€? at the end is â€œTo find genuine connection, we must risk disconnection. The new light we shine draws others towards us, and we become conscious choosers.â€?
This same chapter has an interesting illustration of the potential dangers of â€œmy tribe right or wrongâ€?:
â€œThis deeply felt fear of expulsion from the tribe once made perfect sense. But what happens when we carry that baggage into today's world, a world in which our whole tribe may be about to paddle our canoes right over four hundred foot high Victoria Falls? What happens if YOU can see the high falls looming ... but most of the tribe can't, or they remain stubbornly in denial? Do you try to turn the canoe around or leap out and scramble to shore? Do you call others to follow?
â€œMaybe that's just where we are today; maybe those ARE our choices. Today an anticommunity, corporate-driven culture is going global. ... It's fostering anonymous, competitive, fear-filled ways of relating to one another that deny the human need for community. While staying with the pack always meant salvation to our species, now a willingness to break with the pack may be our real hope.â€?
While this book does have some bias which could be described as â€œliberalâ€?, its emphasis on individual and community-based action as opposed to â€œOnly the State can make us safeâ€? would make a good read for ideologues of all stripes.