By: Maria Corse
When I talk to people about DRC, one of the first things I mention is how the entire community completely and immediately enfolds anyone new who joins us. It is absolutely seamless and not instigated by any of the adults. If you come to visit tomorrow, you will not be able to tell who started last Thursday and who has been a member for three years. Our kids – all of them – bring inherent strengths and challenges to the community. They simply, know that DRC is a safe space for everyone, and to uphold that sense of refuge, we (they) use our (their) talents and skills to support everyone to feel welcome, taken care of, and free to be themselves, as well as comfortable to work on the things that will move them closer to where they ultimately want to be.
I could tell you a million stories – several from just last week. However, to save us all a bit of time, I will merely say, I am blown away by their intuitive kindness and compassion towards each other, every single day.
See, we humans are designed to be helpers. It is in our DNA. Our ancient ancestors would not have survived if competition was built into their basic biological coding. You can look at it from both an evolutionary and cultural standpoint - those hominids who lived in community cooperatively, caring for each other and sharing all of their resources and skills, lived to pass on their genes. Those who were selfish, greedy, and cruel jerks, were often shunned from the group and most probably did not. In this way, the ideals and concepts of reciprocity – sharing, kindness, and compassion were passed on throughout human history.
The cool thing is – we now recognize this exact same trait in other species besides our own. It is proven that chimps and other primates take care of each other, as do elephants and whales, as well as a host of others in the animal kingdom. But wait --- even trees have been found to communicate with each other.
In traditional, tribal Africa, the concept of Ubuntu, the rule of the land, exemplifies all of this perfectly. “I am who I am because of who we all are.” In other words, I cannot be any better (smarter, richer, or more virtuous) or worse (dumber, poorer, or more unethical) than the entire community (tribe, family, or clan). We are all in this together.
This philosophy, I believe, should still be the very foundation for all of society. In the end, as human beings, we are all equals. Privileges and prejudices related to ethnicity, religion, economics, gender, sexual orientation, health and disease, etc., are all solely distractions – things to fight over. I’ll say it again, loudly, for the people in the back - we are all human beings – we are born into this world and then, when it is our time, we die. And, as the old axiom says, “you can’t take it with you.” Whatever power, privilege, and wealth you have amassed in this life stays right here.
So, what went so horribly wrong? I believe that the driving force behind all of the hate currently being spewed and our disconnection from other humans is driven by our overwhelming reliance on capitalistic principles. Which in essence, instructs us that helping equals cheating and those that need the assistance are weak, lazy, and unmotivated. We are actively teaching our children, through a system that uses reward and punishment, as motivators, that winning is more important than helping. And, that survival involves taking care of Number 1. Consequently, those who are greedy, power hungry, and privileged “win,” and those who are not “lose” – the complete opposite of our biological and cultural beginnings.
I find it completely fascinating that kids, who have the opportunity to be in a place where competition, quite intentionally, does not exist, spontaneously, revert to back to reciprocity - what I like to think of as the natural order.
And, I would like to be very clear – this concept (way of being) is not part of a lesson – none of us teaches a class or hands out an instruction manual called, “how to share and be kind.” Upon entering this space, you can literally feel the collaborative spirit – it has weight and mass and it exists because everyone here understands, on a profound level, the true meaning and value of kindness. I would like to believe that what we have created here, is what our future looks like.
Thank you to everyone who came to our House Warming Party this past Thursday. We had a ton of fun showing you around our new home. For those who could not make it, you are welcome to visit anytime. We would love to see you. Just let us know when you plan on stopping by.
At DRC, we are focused on providing an educational opportunity for those who would otherwise be left behind. These are kids who were so deeply unhappy that they could not envision a positive future. In doing this work, we hope to support a generation of youth to be inspired to stay, here in the NoCo, and use their skills to build a positive, economically viable place for future generations to thrive. Yes, it is a grandiose goal, but one I believe to be doable. If we can raise the money required to keep DRC functioning and sustainable --- which means providing not only the funds for basic operations, but also salaries to pay our dedicated staff a livable wage --- we will be successful.
Your business or organization can support this vision by sponsoring a DRC student. Please share the following information with your employer – if you are the owner of a local business, please get in touch. Thank you!