Greetings from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where we met with community leaders, did basic finance training and had opportunities to help connect people to resources available to their community.
For people who never leave their western, urban core community, it's hard to understand the sense of community within and the isolation from outside of communities like in Kaktovik. I wish every Alaskan, everybody, could have the experience I feel so fortunate to regularly experience in my job.
That leads to today's smidgen of insight. Life is neither more ideal nor tragic in small communities.
In smaller communities there are a few people engaged enough to make a difference and from time to time those who are engaged have conflicting opinions about what should be done. The only difference is there are 4-8 doers in a place like Kaktovik and in Anchorage there may be 40-50.
When these conflicts turn into major disputes, feelings are hurt. If these conflicts are not eventually resolved, the community suffers, regardless of size.
Maybe the reason we idealize small town life is that in big communities there may be a few more engaged people to make things happen, and more people means more diversity, which can lead to larger conflicts. Urbanites and rural people each misinterpret that urban conflicts are worse; they're not. All unresolved conflict, the inability of the engaged people in any town to compromise, eventually destroys the community.
So today's smidgen of insight is that diverse opinions from engaged people are the fabric of community. But for community to survive, those people must eventually compromise.
Community cannot be sustained with ongoing conflict but the lack of conflict can be an equal dilemma. Because if there is no conflict, the community has become overly controlled by one viewpoint. Dictatorships can on the surface seem peaceful, but as long as those communities have people, eventually there will be conflict.
I guess the point is that life is never easy because for us to successfully live together in community we cannot avoid conflict, nor can we tolerate too much conflict for too long.
Compromise is the answer.