In the 1960s we had such a special neighbourhood. The young, the old and the middle aged all came together once a month for drinks. Someone would have an open home on a Friday evening and everyone would turn up with a 6-pack or a bottle of wine, a plate to share and we’d catch up. We would chat about who was going away so we always knew which houses to look out for. We would chat about how everyone was health-wise and we’d know when to drop by with a frozen meal or hot soup after a surgery or illness. We’d talk about what the kids were up to so we knew what they were doing and where they were spending their time and could help in keeping them safe. We’d discuss what local events were on at the schools; churches and sporting clubs and we knew when our help was needed.
Our little leafy suburb of Brisbane had “community” downpat and it was a beautiful thing. But somewhere along the lines of time, we’ve lost that sense of community in our lives. In fact, community isn’t highly valued any longer.
A study from the Home Heat Helpline found some alarming statistics on community, or the lack thereof, in society today. They conducted a survey late last year and found that 94 per cent of us consider ourselves “giving” people. However, 23 per cent confessed to having never performed an act of random kindness and 16 per cent claimed that didn’t know their next-door neighbour’s name.
They also found that 35 per cent of people said they hadn’t given back to their local area and over one quarter of respondents said they wouldn’t trust their neighbour to look after the home they live in.
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What a sad world we live in!
What happened to caring about others? What happened to giving? What happened to generosity?
Have we really become so busy, so caught up in our own lives that we’ve stopped truly caring? People out there will say things like, “I’m a great donator” and “I give loads of money to charity every year”. That is great, our dollars fund research that can changes the lives of people we don’t know. But why don’t we want to change the lives of the people that we do know?
All it takes is a simple wave while you walk by, a smile to a neighbour and a hand while taking the bins out. Then it’s a discussion, an interest in their life and their health. A few hours out of your day to volunteer at a local organisation or an offer to car pool or share a meal with a neighbour can follow, too.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort, energy or money to be kind. In fact, it isn’t something that “wastes” you in any way. Kindness is something that makes us a better person, it improves who we are and helps us to grow as an individual.
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I believe that if we all spent a little more time – even just five minutes a day being a little less selfish and a little more generous with our time and heart, a sense of community will slowly return to Australia and it will once again be valued.
Tell us today, do you think society has lost their sense of community? Do you see the big differences between now and 50 years ago? Share your thoughts in the comments below..