Archived Opinion

From Me to We

From Me to We

“The story can’t be about the heroism of one person any more, it has to be about the heroism of communities.” — Barry Lopez

I consider myself to be an independent person. Someone who has “followed their bliss,” as mythologist Joseph Campbell put it. “Done my own thing” as we used to say back in the 1960s. And in my adulthood, been self-employed. Yet, everywhere I have ever lived, I have lived as part of a community. I didn’t live in isolation. 

At a very early age, my family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, across the then country road from Graceland. Then, the family moved again to the small mountain town of Robbinsville, very near to the Snowbird Cherokee Reservation. When the family moved yet again to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for my high school years, I was part of that community. When I graduated from high school and attended Furman University for four years in Greenville, South Carolina, I was part of the Furman community. I finished college and wanted to travel, so I went to live in France, and there I was part of the French community. When I returned back to the states, I lived and worked on a family farm in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I was part of the midwestern farming community there. After my farming experience, I moved to California and was living and working in the Napa Valley for a new winery and was part of the Napa Valley community. When I moved down to the Bay Area to San Francisco, in North Beach, I was part of the North Beach community. My next move was back east to Polk County, where I lived off-the-grid for four years. During that time, I was part of a rural mountain community near Saluda. In the last 35 years I have lived here in Jackson County and in various ways I have interacted with and been part of the Jackson County community. 

Yes, we are all individuals and have, if we are lucky, the freedom to roam and roam how and where we choose. But even so, we don’t live in a vacuum. We have lived amongst other people and wild critters and landscapes whether we acknowledge it or not. And each one of those landscapes, those environments, those places, influence and affect where we go, what we do and who we become. In my case, this is certainly true. That road will not be a solo journey seeking survival, but one that is built and traveled upon by whole communities, large and small. 

In the Gospel of Thomas, there is a passage that reads: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” For the past several hundred years (or more) we humans have been following a paved path determined by nation states, corporate and authoritarian governments and the idea of “progress” to our own detriment. We have not been listening to the wisdom voice within, to the moral story within. And that ignoring, that ignorance is rising up, now, to destroy us. 

Barry Lopez, the Oregon-based naturalist writer, says that we need to reinvent ourselves and our responsibilities to each other, our families, our communities, our countries and our planet.  Lopez goes on to say: “If we’re going to survive and to thrive in whatever landscape the world offers us in the decades ahead, we must learn to speak respectfully to each other, to listen to each other, to take into consideration the fate of each other’s children and wake up to the salvation of a multicultural existence. We have cut ourselves off from the nonhuman world and have called this ‘progress.’ Such numinous encounters in nature are moments of reconnection, part of the human search for reciprocated love.” 

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Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning “the right, critical, or opportune moment.” It is now a term being widely used by social scientists and environmental physicists to address the conditions in which we find ourselves living today. In other words, now is the proper time for action — in this opportune moment when we are facing the triple threat of covid, climate change and cultural upheaval and when we are told by everyone in the know that if we are going to have a sustainable world in which to live we must make the necessary changes, both to ourselves and to everyone around us. In other words, we are going to need to, as the Beatles song implies, “Come Together.” A song that rings out today with its more than pertinent title and urgent message, “come together, right now” — come together with reciprocated love and “now” meaning today, when we no longer have any time to lose!

(Thomas Crowe is a regular contributor to The Smoky Mountain News and author of  the multi-award-winning non-fiction nature memoir “Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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5 comments

  • You were never actually a part of the community. You were a visitor, a sojourner at best an interloper at worst. A community requires investment in each other with a return on that investment later. You aren't there for them to draw upon anymore. You got what you needed and then moved on.

    posted by Chris Wilson

    Sunday, 02/20/2022

  • Alas, we have been lied to about covid and climate change by people with nothing but a and lust for power. Cultural upset is one of the results of those lies, placing the gullible on the side of the covid and climate change nonsense. We have seen the left pull these shenanigans repeatedly, only for them to be proven wrong.

    The left will continue throwing things at the wall in hope of getting something to stick. None of them think critically and a few "back of the envelope" computations would rise serious question for those who are actually seeking the truth. Climate change is one of those things and the lust for extremely expensive boondoggles, like electric cars or going to entirely "renewable" energy, are just two of those things.

    At present the earth is cooling because we are heading to a solar minimum. There is no where near sufficient generating capacity to handle the number of electric vehicles the loony left wants to require and to be able get to a point of equal energy density of gasoline or diesel, would require electrical devices that nothing short of being far more dangerous than gasoline.

    There is nothing inside of a human being that can save him. Christ came a died so that man might have eternal life if he repents and repudiates sin. The country is trouble because such has been done by a very small minority of the people. Rely on the "Gospel of Thomas" and you will not be saved.

    The authors experiences might have been nice, but based on this column, he has acquired little wisdom from them.

    posted by Quartermaster

    Saturday, 02/19/2022

  • You mention Covid, Climate Change and Cultural Upheaval. Let me ask you, do you really think that the thesis of your opinion piece can also apply to the elite one percent, the privileged class, the rich and powerful politicians, crony capitalists and so called celebrities? If your answer is yes, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Or does it specifically apply to the majority of the working class proletariat? I'm sure you heard of the book Lord of the Flies. If you have read it already, I suggest you read it again and then get back to us.

    posted by Lucille Josephs

    Friday, 02/18/2022

  • It's good to review your beautiful brew of communities over the years, Thomas. May we all bring forth what is within us, and strengthen together. Thank you for your eloquent reminder.

    posted by Anne Valley-Fox

    Thursday, 02/17/2022

  • Right Now! Yes, we urgently need love broadly and deeply spread if we are to go forward! Well done Thomas! Thank you for sharing.
    .J Drew Lanham

    posted by JDrew Lanham

    Thursday, 02/17/2022

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