In the 20th century, American men and women alike knew their place. They had a role in a marriage, they had a role in the raising and nurturing of children, they had a role in the local church, and they had a role in their community and nation.
Generations raised after the sexual revolution, civil rights movement, gay rights movement, and so on have not had that luxury. Gen X’ers, millennials, and post-millennials have no predetermined place in the home. Their gender identity and orientation is on a spectrum, they are told. Their racial and ethnic identities are nonexistent (for white kids). Their understanding of what constitutes a family could be anything from “dad, mom, and kids” to “truck, boyfriend, and dog.”
Just as bad as that may be, they also don’t have an understanding of what a community or nation is. We can see the effects of this lack of national identity in our politics on issues from the border wall to immigration to military interventions abroad. But the lack of understanding about local community has also been disastrous for American cities and towns. It doesn’t matter if you grew up in a small Midwestern town or a large Pacific Coast metropolis. The fact is that the majority of Americans alive today are connected to very few people outside their immediate circles of IRL or online contacts…and to the mass media, of course. Everyone is connected to the mass media — or else you’re out of the loop, and no one wants to be such a loser, right?
So basically in between me, myself, and I, and whomever I may happen to know online or in real life, there are very few people I interact with that I know in person. The only others I have a connection to, or spend any time or money on, are people that don’t know that I exist, like rock stars, political figures, and sports teams. We have been simultaneously atomized and homogenized.
The missing links are in the family and local community. For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to bypass the family and focus on the community — specifically, the urban neighborhood or small-town community.
Communities consist of families and community institutions within a defined geographic area. Community institutions are how unrelated people cooperate to enjoy certain activities or create visible results in their world. Examples of such institutions include the local church, the local or county political party, the local branch of national fraternal and service organizations, the local athletic organization, the local artist or farmer cooperative, and the local school.
With the exception of local government schools, which are funded by compulsory taxation, all of these above types of institutions depend on voluntary contributions of labor, money, and membership. And with very few exceptions, all of these volunteer-driven institutions are disappearing from communities across the country. It doesn’t matter what part of the country you live in, what social class you belong to, or whether you’re a country mouse or a city mouse.
Let’s look at a few snippets of articles documenting the decline of fraternal and service organizations, which are representative of what is happening in all types of community institutions from Little Leagues to churches.
COLUMBUS, Neb. — Hollie Olk listed the number of activities held by the Columbus Noon Kiwanis group.
They have stuffed backpacks for needy children, distributed food to the poor, given dictionaries to local third-graders, sponsored babysitting clinics and worked post-prom events, just to name a few.
Some efforts have gone by the wayside, though, as membership in the group has started to slide.
When Olk joined in 1993, there were more than 50 people in Noon Kiwanis. Today, there are only about 20….
The decline in membership isn’t limited to Noon Kiwanis. Many other longstanding civic groups are facing the same problem….
Olk, with Columbus Noon Kiwanis, said a continuation of the downward membership trend could spell the end for some civic organizations and the community projects they handle.
“If we don’t gain any new members, absolutely. You only survive with new members,” she said. “Becoming a member of a civic club, no matter which it is, is life enriching. You feel so good about what you can do and it only takes a few hours by giving back to the community.”
OAKLAND, Mich. — …New and younger members may come in but not stay because they find that older members resist trying new things. Since younger people spend so much time online, clubs are trying to use social media and hold e-club meetings to reach them.
Frank Cunningham belongs to a Lions Clubs International district that covers Macomb and Oakland Counties. Lions clubs in Harrison, Chesterfield and West Bloomfield have closed.
“Our district had 26,000 members and we are now down to 15,000,” he said. “Getting younger members is a tough sell. Lions International says we have an average age in the mid- to late 60s. We are having a forum in February on bridging the gap between older and younger people. I see this in all groups: they want younger members but they don’t want to let them run with projects and ideas they bring in. After a while the young men and women lost interest.”…
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dorian Piexto spent many December days as a child at the Cambrian Kiwanis Club tree lot as her grandfather sold Christmas trees to raise money for the service club’s community service programs.
Many of Piexoto’s contemporaries share similar childhood memories participating in family events as part of their parents’ or grandparents’ service club involvement. And although one would think such memories might spur a person to join a community service club, the fact is most service clubs have seen declining membership in recent years even as the potential membership pool has grown…
As I stated earlier, the youngest three generations of Americans have little to no connection with their communities. We simply have not been trained to think in this way. We’ve been indoctrinated to believe that the two greatest forms of identity we can have are in an extremely individualistic personality, and total obedience to an overarching, moral-political structure such as the United States federal government, “social justice,” “progress,” or “the Earth.”
Widespread resistance to globalism at the local community level would be the greatest antidote to many of the problems caused by multinational, globalist causes, governments, and corporations.
Ironically and tragically, though, many of the institutions in our local communities have been appropriated by and for the cause of globalism. Ergo, membership in such institutions — whether it be the Rotary Club, library board, school board, or church — will often result in a situation where a young, eager, right-wing salmon attempts to swim upstream against the current of status quo Boomers and young globalists who hold the final say in what those institutions do. And when that happens, such noble salmon usually look around, see no one coming to help them, realize that they are fighting a useless fight, and reluctantly conclude that the only rational thing to do is to preserve their own lives and posterity as best as they can, abandoning the local institutions to their globalist, stooge neighbors. But, just as we must take dominion over local politics, we must fight this fight for our communities too.