Introduction


Thomas Paine, in his famous pamphlet, Common Sense wrote:

Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Mr. Paine is talking about two tendencies which exist in every individual and within every society.  Nietzsche called these two tendencies Dionysian and the Apollonian.  James Bryce in The American Commonwealth describes them as centrifugal and centripetal forces.  The way that I describe them in my own words are the impulse to be free from restraint, and the impulse to want to control circumstances to get a desired result.   I recognize this battle within myself and when I see such juxtaposition of ideas, experience has told me that the ideal of life lies somewhere in the middle.  My quest is to find that ideal and implement it on a societal level.

The Free Commots from the fictional land of Prydain are the inspiration for what I would like to accomplish in neighborhoods across the nation.  I believe that our current economic difficulties are caused by a phenomenon of modern society where people living next door to each other, or within the same neighborhood, more often than not, do not know each other on a first name basis.  They are not close enough to offer support through difficult times and share in the celebration of life’s joys.

I believe that community togetherness is the balance between the centripetal and centrifugal societal forces.

Advertisements