What Are You Doing To Build Community?

It is common to feel a lack of belonging to any community beyond your immediate family. Are you doing anything to change that?

In the industrialized world, an emphasis is placed on he individual, or the idea of the small, “nuclear” family. It is common for children to move far away from their parents, and for people to settle down and raise their own family hundreds or even thousands of miles away from where they grew up.

This is a far cry from families that saw multiple generations living together under one roof. Or a clan being an extended family all living in the same village.

Under current circumstances, a sense of community can be hard to find. Many of the traditional institutions that provided that sense of community, like family and the church, are in decline. Even people who live in a densely populated residential area might not know many — or any — of their neighbors.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’


Things have gotten particularly bad as a result of the pandemic. First the lockdown limited social interaction, and then many of the more popular ways of socializing, like music concerts or sporting events, were canceled or heavily restricted.

And yet, human beings are social animals. We crave social interactions, and we feel the need to belong to a group that is larger than ourselves.

Do you feel that pull to join other people? In what ways are you trying to reestablish contact with friends and neighbors? What activities do you participate in, or what strengthens the bonds you have with others? What are you doing to build community?

Related questions: What makes a community? Why do we feel the need to belong? Why do people like games? What do we have in common?

Does Universal Basic Income Make Sense?

Universal Basic Income — the idea that citizens of a country get paid, just for being citizens — has grown more popular over the last half-decade. But does the idea make sense?

People do a lot of unpaid work. If you want someone to take care of your children, you will have to pay them to do it. If you want someone to clean your house, you will have to pay them to do it. If you want someone to fix you car, you have to pay them to do it. So clearly these tasks have a monetary value.

However, if you do them yourself — take care of your own children, clean your own house, or fix your own car — you don’t get paid to do these things. Why not? Why don’t you get paid to do a job that has monetary value? But who would pay you for it?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’


In a similar vein, we all share common resources. From the water we drink to the land we live on, shouldn’t we all benefit when these resources are used?

Alaska has done exactly that. The state has the “Alaska Permanent Fund” which receives a percentage of oil, gas, and mineral development in the state. Each Alaska resident then gets an annual check from the revenues generated from the fund — typically somewhere between $1000 and $2000 each year. It is wildly popular in the state, and has cut the poverty rates drastically. Could something like that work on a national level?

Simple mathematics shows that if each U.S. citizen — 330 million — received $2000, it would cost $660 billion each year. That is a lot of money, to be sure, but the annual U.S. defense budget is higher ($778 billion in 2022). But would it make sense to spend that much, particularly when a large percentage of people receiving the money would hardly notice the $2000? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to target just the people who would most benefit?

But then you would be creating a large amount of bureaucracy to administer the funds. That would not be substantially different from the welfare system that is currently in place.

Is Universal Basic Income an effective way to reduce poverty and empower individuals, or would it actually increase inflation and decrease productivity? In your opinion, does it make sense?

Related questions: What is the purpose of money? Time or money? How can we encourage debate?

How Do We Come Together?

In our current society, there are a number of factors that have divided us into different camps. How do we reverse that and come together?

There are many reasons why we look at our fellow human beings with increased distrust.

Politicians use fear and distrust of others to motive their constituents. When news outlets promote conflict, they are rewarded with increased viewership, more clicks, or a higher circulation. As more families fall into or toward poverty, they fight desperately for livelihoods.

And yet, most significant advancements have been made when we work together as a society. Advancing life spans, reduction of widespread disease, better understanding of the world around us — these things are all made possible through cooperation.

It’s not realistic to expect that everyone will agree on all, or even most, issues. But how can we disagree, yet still make progress?

Can we somehow look at our economic, political, religious rivals and somehow see our similarities rather than our differences? How do we come together after being driven so far apart? Particularly when physically coming together is limited due to the global pandemic?

Related questions: Why are we so antagonistic? How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? Is our attention fractured? Division or unity?

Division Or Unity?

Politically, it seems the two parties are farther apart than ever. And yet, with the pandemic, there are amazing stories of generosity and kindness. Which do you see more of in our country right now, division or unity?

Share why if you wish.

Division Or Unity?

What Does It Mean To Be Patriotic?

We often see calls to be patriotic, particularly in a political context. It is important, after all to love the country that you live in.

But what does it mean to love a country? Does it mean to love, unconditionally, everything about that country?

Of course not. The history of any country is bound to contain acts and events that are not to be loved or celebrated. Just as every country is certain to have things that inspire pride.

Some people think patriotism is defined by physical demonstrations. These might include displaying a flag or the country’s colors, reciting a pledge of allegiance, or standing at attention for the national anthem. After all, if you don’t outwardly show love of country, how else might you show it?

Others think that a unified front is important, particularly in the presence of outsiders. Demonstrations against national behavior, criticism of national leaders, and displays of disrespect to a country’s symbols are often seen as unpatriotic.

But is that true? How do I register my displeasure if my country is not acting the way I think it should act? How are individuals supposed to voice their displeasure with the country’s leaders or policies?

In a democratic society, they can vote, of course. But voting only takes place every so often. So what to do in between voting?

There are people who are public servants. People who serve in the armed forces, who run for office, or who work at the local, state, or federal levels of the government. Some people campaign for, or donate to, candidates that they like, or who feel they are represented by.

So what, exactly, is patriotism? Is it celebrating your country’s independence day? Or support of your armed forces, in particular veterans? Is it outward displays? Or is it what is within your heart? What does it mean to be patriotic?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a place feel like home? Where does authority come from? How important is respect? Freedom or security?