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Our contemporary existence finds us living in the shadows of monolithic, heavily centralized political and economic institutions. We feel as if we are but cogs in a larger mechanism. We merely play out a function that, at times, seems out of body.

All the while, we struggle to retain our sense of dignity.

And we will continue to struggle for our sense of dignity, as long as those monolithic, centralized institutions exist. For our sense of dignity emerges when we interface with local, human scaled, decentralized institutions.

When I am a community’s butcher, baker or candlestick maker, I serve an important role to that community. My sense of purpose is tied to that identity. I am known for what I am, for my skills, my services, my passions, my knowledge.

Likewise, I also know the other members of the community, and what they bring to that community’s existence. I understand their importance as well.

The community becomes a lens, a lens through which I make sense of the world at hand, and the world in general.

I maintain a sense of coherence.

I have found my place under the sun.

I breathe easier.

While I may or may not find happiness, I do find some semblance of contentment.

Most importantly, I hold onto my sense of dignity.

And that sense of dignity is intertwined with the dignity of others around me.

But you can’t get there from here, where we are standing, today.