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Sense of Community

Published in Miami Today August 6, 2014

I have a confession to make. I’m a community psychologist, but I don’t like people very much. I like the idea of people, but actual people is something else: They smell, talk too much, don’t know how to spell, and wear Nike shirts with Adidas shorts. 

For me, ideal encounters with other human beings are short, funny, and focused; except with my own family of course, which are distressing, chaotic, and way too long (I love you honey!). No, seriously, I love hanging out with my immediate family because it consists of only three more people, big enough to qualify for a community, small enough to care. Bigger than that and you risk lack of focus, solemnity, and overtime.

At home, our day consists of me making funny faces, singing made up songs in various languages, some of which I actually speak, and talking about irreproducible topics leading to nowhere in particular. At work, my day consists of me making serious faces, suppressing my funny accent, and talking about reproducible topics leading also to nowhere in particular. I succeed pretty well at looking thoughtful but I’m a total failure at suppressing my Argentinean-Israeli-Canadian-Australian-Nashvillean accent, which may prevent me from being President one day, although I do have good hair.

But despite my allergic reactions to certain smells and spelling mistakes, a sense of community is really a good thing. Take Colombia for example. In the 1990s, Colombians reported the highest level of happiness in the world. This was at the time that Colombia experienced the highest rate of random violence, kidnappings, and murders in the world. How do you explain that? Too much cocaine? No, the answer is that family cohesion and social support compensate for the violence around them.

Look at Mexico now. In the first decade of this century Mexicans reported the highest level of happiness in the world, at the same time that gang violence was rampant. What happened there? Too much tequila? No, as in Colombia, sense of community makes people happy, which is not to say that a little tequila doesn’t help.

Incidentally, in the same survey where Colombians came first, Moldovans came last. Although I was personally offended at this finding, as my ancestors came from Moldova, this is no surprising, considering that Moldova is almost as corrupt as Miami.

My ancestors were very lucky; they escaped pogroms and the Cossacks in Kishinev to move to Argentina, which later became a haven for Nazis and a fascist dictatorship. Don’t get me wrong, Cossacks, Nazis, and Fascists had great sense of community, but they had a very bad sense of humor, and a very bad genocidal streak; two things that we Jews don’t really like. Besides, they had bad breadth. 

You would have thought that all these multigenerational traumatic experiences would have made me into an antisocial, paranoid lunatic. Wrong. These experiences made me into a RABID antisocial, paranoid lunatic. But I want you to know that I’m in remission. After consulting with my doctor for side effects such as pancreatic cancer, fusobacterium, leprosy, Fanconi anemia, fetal alcohol syndrome, hepatolenticular degeneration, and testicular evaporation, I decided to take communophilicon, by injection, in the eye, four times a day. I’m telling you, I’m a completely new person. Now I’m raising funds to rehabilitate homeless Nazis in Argentina, I’m creating a prison visiting program for former dictators, and I’m shipping 40,000 cases of Listerine to Moldova. It feels great to help the community. Thanks communophilicon!

 

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