ROBB MOORE ON RVA’S COMMUNITY (2013)

270447_736792659599_1619412349_nCommunity, like family, is one of those words that on the surface pops with the positive associations we know we should feel about it, but that in a postmodern and urban reality drips also with the clinging of demands that lead many of us to spend lots of energy holding it at arm’s length. And that broken, isolating and selfish part of ourselves will repeat its deadening refrain, with endless variations: “I’m just passing through here, no time and no need to get to know the neighbors,” “can’t settle down here, I’ve got much bigger things to accomplish,” “I don’t want people that I don’t consciously choose in my business,” “I already have enough friends,” I’m not responsible for them,”” they’re nothing like me,” “I didn’t create their problems,” and on it goes. And depending on our own amount of wealth, socio-economic status, youth and health, we can personally afford to exist according to that refrain, to construct and control a world that is a slave to that isolating and selfish impulse. But our great and small personal stores of each of these things of course are destined to be utterly depleted as the years tick by us and we are moved invariably toward our end. And I hear advancing age, even wisdom, beginning to whisper the truth through the cracks and crevices of my own life: that if there really is a judgement, divine or self-ordained, or some mysterious combination of the two, it may – surprising to us – orbit not around what we achieved in wealth, status or fame, nor around what we experienced in a baseball card’s assortment of interesting and exciting memories on some bent path we cooked up ourselves, but instead will orbit (ONLY?) around the manner in which we cared for, or didn’t, served, or didn’t, loved, or didn’t, those sentient beings, human and otherwise, whom were given unto us by either the accident of mere proximity, or by the deep yearnings of a secretly perfect universe where accident and coincidence have no meaning, depending on how we each choose to see things. When that mere proximity / deep yearning is expressed in birth or in the commitments built on the intimacies of human love, we can call it family and when it is formed by institution, city block, alley, building, footpath or even bandwidth and gigabyte, we can call it community. Whatever we choose to call it, in the cosmic final analysis, it can only provide the care, service and love to us that we choose to give to it and I think we can bet our bottom dollar that we’ll each be called – in some way – and above all else – to account for it in the final measure of things. And for me and most of us here, that means, less cosmically and more locally, more specifically, either redoubling our efforts or actually getting off our cans and getting to work in good ol’ RVA. -Robb Moore, University of Richmond, Assistant Vice President for Advancement Systems