There’s a good reason the term “community organizer” has become a sarcastic joke. As a class, they haven’t been covering themselves with glory. The term has become more-or-less synonymous with “left-wing agitator’ or “political hustler.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The negative impression is created by the community organizers who develop strong political connections, rake in a ton of money, and rise into the media spotlight. A lot of people who would could be fairly described as community organizers are doing fine, unsung work across the country. It’s a fairly loose term, after all. There is no central board that certifies such organizers.
Alas, the aggressive, destructive, and corrupt variety of community organization is what gets all the attention. This is well-understood by the attention seekers themselves. They’ve got a pretty good handle on what it takes to get cameras pointed in their direction. They also tend to be co-opted by politicians when their efforts achieve a certain level of prominence, becoming part of corrupt machines that have maintained power in big cities for generations.
That’s too bad, because there has always been a need for people to step up in leadership roles and make their communities better. There’s only so much that formal government structures can do, only so much we should want them to do. We should call each other to higher purpose and encourage voluntary effort to make our neighborhoods better places. We should set informal standards for each other to meet, without ushering in the coercive power of the State to manage every effort and resolve every dispute.
It has become so easy for us to live isolated from one another, dwelling within electronic fortresses of solitude that handle everything from social interaction to entertainment and commerce. Less human effort is required to meet the needs of daily life than ever before. This makes us rich in free time, a treasure held in great quantity only by the wealthiest and most powerful only a few generation ago. Our community standards have a significant effect on how we choose to spend that free time, and on the courtesies we render to each other.
Courtesy seems like an old-fashioned concept in a time when aggressive demonstrations of strength and menace are so often seen as the key to securing respect. A great deal of …read more