Every year I do the Renaissance Faire. It's a fun place to be outdoors and interact with people in a way that most Californians have no concept of - just talking to them for no reason. Coming from Texas, this happens a lot...grocery stores, lines for tickets, airports...any time you put a Texan somewhere they have to wait, they'll usually try to talk to someone. It makes the time pass.
At any rate, it got me to thinking about people. We experience people every day, through our jobs, through our neighbors, but do any of us really understand the nature of people? We know there are bad people and good people (or if you're Oscar Wilder, charming or tedious people) and that we need to lock our doors when we leave the house...but we feel slighted if the neighborhood kid comes over to talk to us and their parents whisk them away in a rush, admonishing them not to talk to strangers. After all, we're not strangers - we're neighbors. The news tells us that there is every type of bad person out there and they're all waiting for you to slip up and walk down the wrong dark alley, but where are all these bad people when you get a flat tire on the side of the road?
I'm not by any means saying bad people don't exist. Often people are motivated for selfish reasons, and by that very nature means that if they want something, they care more about that than they do your wants and desires. Office politics and gossip could tell you that much. It just makes me wonder how much we cut ourselves off to shield from all this? A sense of community, a place to belong is a wonderful thing. It's annoying sometimes, sure, but in the end we are pack animals and together is where we belong. It also brings to mind the question if we continue to cut ourselves off from humanity for fear of pain and loss, what does that do in turn to our own humanity? Does it make us more selfish and liable to hurt others due to the demands of our own agendas, like a vicious downward spiral of ever-worsening behaviour and loss?
We live in fortress cities now. Mike Davis, a leading sociologist and specialist on the plight of cities and communities, has done extensive studies on Los Angeles and come to very startling conclusions. His books are very interesting (check them out sometime) and deal with the same idea that cutting humanity off from itself is a bad idea from many perspectives.
Renaissance Faire, I believe, is a place that many people go to get that sense of community back. It has all the affairs, gossip, drama, and fallout of any community, yet almost everyone who works it comes back yearly. I might mention now that this is an entirely volunteer effort and no money is paid to most of the participants if they are not involved with a stage show or "theme character" so anyone who works the faire is choosing to participate in this "mystery cycle" as it were.
More to come...this thought is definitely not fleshed out to completion.