David Brooks writes today about the Resnicks, a wealthy couple in California who produce things like Fiji water and Pom pomegranate juice. They are working to build a community among the workers who live around and work in their factories. Excerpts:
Fortunately, we’re beginning to see the rise of intentional community instigators. If social capital isn’t going to form spontaneously, people and groups will try to jump-start it into existence.
He explains how the Resnicks are doing that. More:
Finally, there are more cross-class connections. Dr. Maureen Mavrinac moved here from the UCLA Family Medicine Department. Dr. Rishi Manchanda was the lead physician for homeless primary care at the Los Angeles V.A. These are among the dozens who have come to Lost Hills not to save the place from outside, but to befriend it. Their way of being ripples. I met several local women who said they were shy and quiet, but now they are joining community boards and running meetings.
What’s the right level to pursue social repair? The nation may be too large. The individual is too small. The community is the right level, picking a piece of land and giving people a context in which they can do neighborly things — like the dads here who came to the pre-K center and spent six hours building a shed, and with it, invisibly, a wider circle of care for their children.
Read the whole thing. This is a nice approximation of what I envision the Benedict Option being, except for Christians, and with the
telea goals of serving God by deepening one’s knowledge of and commitment to the Christian faith, and helping others.
The Benedict Option is not simply a strategy for how to live and to thrive under conditions of oppression. Even if there were no oppression, we would still need the Benedict Option, because modernity, by its very nature, is leaching the faith out of our souls, churches, families, and communities.
Justice Clarence Thomas said in his Hillsdale commencement address the other day that one need not pick a grand cause and work for its realization in order to be a good citizen. One can do that by just being decent and loyal and of service to one’s neighbors. I was reminded yesterday of how my late sister, Ruthie Leming, did that with the kids she taught in public school. Here’s a short passage from The Little Way of Ruthie Leming:
Kendrick Mitchell, another of Ruthie’s early students, came from a strong home and made good grades. His problem was bullying. A self-described nerd, Kendrick loved Greek mythology and Sherlock Holmes mysteries – unusual tastes for West Feliciana sixth-grade boys, especially so for African-American kids. Kendrick took loads of taunting from classmates for his love of reading.
Ruthie reached out to Kendrick, befriended him, and encouraged him, telling him that it was going to get better, to hang on. More:
Today, working in human resources for a Fortune 500 company in Houston, Kendrick says that the patience and encouragement Ruthie gave him – “She always, always had time for you, no matter what,” he says — was even more important than the knowledge she imparted.
“Mrs. Leming taught me that it was okay that I didn’t want to be on the football field or in the streets doing bad things,” he says. “She would even go as far as recommending books to me. She watched the type of books that I liked to read, and when we would go on library trips, she would hand-pick books from the shelf and say, ‘I think you might like this one.’ That’s how she was. We weren’t just names and faces to her. She saw us.”
I wrote that four years ago, having interviewed Kendrick Mitchell on the phone. Yesterday, at a school event, I actually got to meet him. He’s in law school in Houston now, and doing very well. Ruthie was part of his journey to success. Her great mission in life, though she didn’t think of it that way, was to be of service to her community.
Not all politics happen in state and national legislatures and governmental executive offices, you know.