Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The best village on the planet

“In the great cities we see so little of the world, we drift into our minority. In the little towns and villages there are no minorities; people are not numerous enough. — W. B. Yeats, The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore

I HAVE A theory about people and the phenomenon that is Facebook.

I’ll lay it out for you.

I don’t think humans are meant to live the way we do in such densely-populated areas, and I’m not talking about places like LA or New York City; I’m including anything above 1000 people and probably less.

As far as life on earth goes, humans are really new to the party. Primates diverged from other mammals around 85 million years ago. Anatomically modern humans evolved about 200,000 years ago, but the transition to "behavioral modernity" with the development of symbolic culture and language occurred just 50,000 years ago.

So primates = 85 million years. Modern humans = 50,000 years. We, as we know ourselves, have only been "us" for about six one-thousandths of 1 percent of primate existence, so let's be honest: we're not that far removed from our great ape relatives. They lived, and still do wherever we haven’t killed them off, in small troupes in balance with nature.

The irony of living as we do now is that it isolates us from both realms we instinctively need: human connection and connection to the natural world, and I think we crave both.

I've been writing in my last few posts about how starved my soul becomes for the non-human world. Perhaps you're fortunate enough to live in the country or at least next to a greenbelt or park. The rest of us have to drive or fly miles away to find unfettered nature. Most of the time the closest we get to wildlife is keeping a pet (which as my theory goes, helps explain the skyrocketing statistics of pet ownership) or maybe watching birds at a backyard feeder. That's a long way from being part and parcel of the natural world.

Then there's the human connection side of the equation. We used to live in small clusters, hamlets and villages where everyone knew everyone. Now you’re lucky if you know your neighbor much less have established a genuine friendship.

Along comes Facebook, and voila — a means to allow us to inhabit, if not a real, at least a virtual village.

I was kind of a late-adopter of Facebook. The first thing I learned as a neophyte with a tiny circle of "friends" is that Facebook can be used as a weapon to exclude or one-up, so I ditched it about as soon as I tried it.

Although I’d “gotten off” Facebook, the account was still open, and one day I accidentally came across a national pro-gun-regulation post. I started reading the comments, and I was riveted.

Holy moly! In the words of Patty Austin on an album we own, “Yes, my sisters and my brothers!” 

I was flabbergasted to discover that there are actually lots of people in the world who have a similar world view as mine, and I saw in Facebook the possibility of it serving as a link to a universe of like-minded individuals I feel akin (and kin) to.

With trepidation, I sent a friend request to a few whose comments I thought were well informed, passionate and articulate, messaging them to explain how I discovered them and why I’d chosen them. They took me on, and I was in with both feet.

I built my village from there by choosing people whose lives, commitments, accomplishments and life stories I admire. And you are a truly amazing bunch; you really are!!!

I'm not kidding even a little bit!

Paul tells me all the time what an incredible bunch of Facebook friends I have. Yes, I have built my village with care.

Let me tell you who my neighbors are: At least three doctors, three attorneys, a concert violinist, a concert pianist, a poet and four big-time photographers — and by that I mean, one who traveled the world on assignment and three whose work is incredible. 

Five or more of you are authors and have had books published. I have several editors, some of the written word, some of film. One just became an editor for National Geographic. At least two of you write for television or the movies. There are some supremely gifted artists — and cooks and horticulturists. One villager grows most of what he eats and makes his own medicinal ointments and remedies. One donated a kidney to a stranger.

I have a couple of scientists, lots of professional musicians, two courageous whistle-blowers and a museum curator in my village. There are more than a few veterans, hundreds of mothers and fathers and no small number of valiant survivors of cancer, injuries or crushing personal losses. Some village members are currently fighting for their lives against fatal illnesses or caring for someone who is. 

Almost to a person, all in my village are a big-time animal lovers. You're also passionate about justice, equality and human rights, and you're avid readers. That's what you have in common.

So here's to my glorious village. 

And one last little thing: I had a birthday in early May. I'm kind of bad at having my birthday; I'm always some degree of unhappy on it, from utterly miserable to moderately disappointed. I'll write about that some other time, but for now I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to my village friends who wished me a happy birthday. Something close to 200 of you did, and I actually had a wonderful day.

Three weeks later about 150 of you turned right around and wished Paul a happy birthday because I asked if you would help make his day special; and you did.

You're the 



  1. Seems like a nice Village to be a part of. Thanks.

    1. It is, it is, it is!! If you read my humble blog, I consider you part of it as well. :-)

  2. This village has likely saved my life. I didn't enter the bargain looking for that, it wasn't a premeditated construction project, it just happened. Filled a void that a rampaging disease had plowed through my former life.

    Thanks Kelly, great description.

    1. One of these days, I'm writing your story. I'll need to talk to you probably. I'll message you my email. Can you send me yours? I hope to (fingers crossed) start producing a podcast. If I finally do (I've been talking about it for at least a year), I will interview you, if you'll let me. (Maybe there is some amount of hope that I'll start because it took me maybe three years of urging by Paul before I started my blog, but once I did, I've stuck with it to a degree that has amazed us both. PS: Did you see my response to you post about your "neighbors"? I said that I'll be your neighbor. I meant it.