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Argument on Scott Russel Sanders “The Common Life”

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“Human relationships always help us to carry on because they always presuppose further developments, a future – and also because we live as if our only task was precisely to have relationships with other people.” -Albert Camus Community is a web of relationships between humans who share common interests and characteristics. Albert Camus explains how, as humans, we live to be a part of one another and to share responsibilities. Although, there are those who wish to become absent from the constant hassle of society. These people wish to roam incognito without having to be responsible for anyone but themselves. This divorce from human relationship can become dangerous for the person as well as the surrounding people. Scott Russell Sanders makes a good point that, “…if we make a career of being unaccountable, we have lost something essential to our humanity, and we may well become a burden or threat to those around us.”

The nicest thing about getting away from it all is the absence of responsibility. We all need this escape from our daily obligations once in awhile, but we cannot ignore the rest of the world and our nature as humans to be a part of a larger community. Individuals have a duty to fulfill and that is to contribute to the environment around them. Civilizations have always flourished when the people come together and work as one unit. Large cities have been known for their lack of intermutual relationships, this can cause a lot more disputes rather than a community actively seeking an intermission to the fighting. Independence is something to strive for, but not in the way most think. “In the progress of personality, first comes a declaration of independence, then a recognition of interdependence” -Henry Van Dyke. Someone’s independence should help them make decisions for themselves and eventually help others, not lead them further from a society.

Separation of the individual and society makes for a hazardous situation in most cases. If a person chooses to actively become socially isolated for a short period of time, it can enhance the person’s state of mind and mutuality towards others. Although, when it is involuntary and the person doesn’t naturally enjoy the company of other people, the isolation can take over and drag out through time. Sometimes making the person incapable of benefiting from the community and it from him/her. This type of social isolation creates tension in many relationships the person has created in the past. A husband that no longer seeks time with his wife or family, will only find discord in his life, as everyone he used to know drifts away. People need to build relationships in order to progress, all most all people rely on the help of friends and family throughout their life.

In a city there becomes a sense of hostility, because no one takes the time to get to know one another. This uneasiness between people creates a distrust of the people in their community. As this mentality progresses, people start to care less and less about the welfare of the people around them and start to only think of themselves. This narcissism becomes contagious and sooner or later the “dog eat dog world” notion occurs. “A community can support a number of people who are just passing through, or who care about no one’s needs but their own; the greater proportion of such people, however, the more vulnerable the community, until eventually it breaks down…” Small communities are easier to maintain, but can collapse just as easy. Glens Falls, a small community, has opportunity for lots of interaction between its inhabitants, making it easier for people to talk and learn to respect one another.

Even in a small town, however, there can still be social separation, not as much individually, but as groups of people, who were raised differently in different parts of town. In Glens Falls this separation is palpable and continues to progress. Communities must stay closely knit together with lots of social interactions or the whole system could collapse. Society is a very fragile concept and can be easily manipulated without people contributing and working as one to better their town or city.

Many things have changed over the years affecting how people interact, technology being one of the biggest factors. Most of us can not live without our precious smart phones and the social media that comes with it, when in reality the social media that claims to bring us together, makes it harder for us to communicate face to face when the time comes. Now we have to re-learn social skills we knew as children, in order to create better relationships for ourselves and our communities. All of us are connected and whether or not we know it, we need eachother. “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.” -Herman Melville

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