Tuesday, June 24, 2008


"What happens to one happens to all" is a wonderful way of life that results from being community-minded. I've thought of this phrase many times since hearing it in a recent church general conference address (link to talk). While the original application primarily focused on bearing one another's burdens (Mosiah 18:8), I've experienced "what happens to one happens to all" as a kind of mantra as I've been reached out to, and tried to reach out to others in return.

Our ward (local church congregation) has an email listserv that has changed the way I've been able to communicate with others and live the "what happens to one happens to all" way of life. Two experiences of this last week will illustrate:

Maternity Swimsuit
We have a community pool, but have rarely been able to use it due to local vandalism and resulting restrictions on open hours. However, this year, things seem to be in better order and we've finally returned to the pool. This is great fun for the whole family, but my sweet, eight-months-pregnant wife has so far been unable to join in on the fun because she lacks a maternity swimsuit. We've looked around at stores but haven't found one that's 1) in our price range, or 2) what we consider to be modest.

Seeing the disappointment and longing of Maryann on our last outing to the pool, I resolved to seek help. A simple email request for help to the ward listserv resulted in many prompt replies with offers to loan unused maternity swimsuits.

What happens to one happens to all

Biking Tradition
We have a tradition of taking family bike rides each Saturday that we're in town. Our growing family is soon to exceed our bike and trailer capacity. Having had remarkable success with the swimsuit situation, I turned to the ward, via listserv, to see if anyone knew of a great place to find a child bike seat or ride-along trailer. Again, the responses were prompt and incredibly useful. We are now armed with multiple sources to look to find the items we're looking for.

But wait, there's more!

In addition to great advice on places to look (eBay, craigslist, Wal-Mart, etc.), we also got a simple reply: "I have one for you. Call me or stop by."

What happens to one happens to all.

It turns out that this family's neighbors recently gave them two child bike seats, apparently on a whim. When informed that they didn't need two, they were instructed to either use it or give it to someone who could.

We can.

Approaching Community
A story shared from the pulpit recently resonates here. A fine Christian neighbor to our bishop's family (not of our faith) is often seen serving others. He has a riding lawnmower that is, quite honestly, too much for his small yard, but he doesn't stop at his property lines—he proceeds down the street mowing neighbors' yards without fanfare or seeking praise. This kind man is quick to act on visible needs—he helped move a new refrigerator into his neighbor's home, and seeing that the height was too large for the existing counters, arranged for his son to come that evening to raise them. Now that's a tradition that is greater than family bike rides: the tradition of service.

What happens to one happens to all

Why do these acts and ways of life seem so foreign to us? Frankly, because they aren't readily seen... anymore.

I've heard that there was a time when people would relax on their front porch and watch the sun set. Children would play outside with neighborhood friends. Neighbors would stop by to chat or share some baked goods. And when there were needs, the community, or individuals, would respond.

What Can Be Done?
Why are the warm feelings that are evoked when just imagining such a way of life not felt in reality on a regular basis? Why do we isolate ourselves from our neighbors and potential friends? Why do we withhold our time and talents when we know we would feel good through sharing?

I think better questions would be to replace each preceding "we" with "I." Why don't I? Why don't I?

I don't know, but I hope I can find out. Perhaps the time-saving devices that now surround us free up so much time that we fill our schedules with the meaningless, or the less meaningful. Perhaps our desires to be entertained have replaced our needs to love and be loved. Perhaps we're quietly afraid of the unknown, or don't want our needs to be known for fear that it will lessen our reputation.

Perhaps it's a combination of these and many more reasons.

I hope I can replace the "Why Don't I?" questions with "How can I help?", "How are you?", and "Will you help me?"

Or even take it one step further; I hope I will act when I see a need without letting the questions stand in the way of being community-minded. Then, I'll find that what happens to one, really does happen to all.

0 thoughts