The best progress comes from us

Take pride in the work you do for your family, your neighborhood, and your community.

This week’s paper is full of stories about community wins.

The unveiling of the new facilities at the Burton Adventure Recreation Center, led both by adults who care about creating positive and thrilling spaces for youth and those youth themselves — that’s a win.

So were the celebrations across town at the Comunidad’s Mercado and the Mukai Farm & Garden Japan Festival, both an opportunity to share culture, bring people together, and build community.

News of this month’s horse show to support Coulter Verharen, after a life-changing spinal cord injury, is also a sign of us working together to help our own.

In any community, this is how things happen: For sheer practical reasons, some of the best work we’ll do on behalf of others, in our lifetime, will be for those closest to us. There’s even a philosophical reasoning for this point.

University of Texas philosopher Dr. Julia Driver writes in “Consequentialism and Feminist Ethics” that to maximize the good in the world, we actually can display some partiality to those we love, and those near us.

Driver cleaves this kind of healthy partiality away from the corruption of backroom deals or nepotism: “Partiality can certainly go too far and become a kind of special pleading,” she writes. And it is certainly noble to set out to do good for the world at large.

But Driver uses the metaphor of “the angel of the world,” an extension of Virginia Woolf’s ever-sacrificing “angel in the house,” the “perfect” wife and mother who only gives and never takes, to make a feminist point about what we owe to each other.

The “angel of the world” gives her all to others, totally impartially, totally taken advantage of. But the opposite, the “sterile and lonely ideal of self-sufficiency,” isn’t a convincing way to live our life either. Neither approach seems healthy — and, Driver argues, healthy cooperation and leaning on each other is a more efficient way to do good anyway.

“No one would call upon the angel to abandon the vulnerable,” Driver writes. “… However, all should call upon those who are noncompliers … to help her and to refuse extreme deference. Her trust in them is misplaced if they take this kind of advantage … (leaving) a nonoptimal network of relationships … (in other words) fewer or less happy individuals.”

The point is that helping others and bringing them up is an inexhaustible gift we can give to each other. And the people we’re usually best at helping are those closest to us; we know how to help them because we love them.

So take pride in the work you do for your family, your neighborhood, and your community — it is what keeps so many of us healthy, fed, connected, enlightened and curious about the world. And call upon those you love to care for you in return — to reflect the love and respect you give them back toward you. The more connections you build, the stronger your network becomes.

And there are plenty of opportunities coming up to get involved and build those connections that you can read about in this issue of The Beachcomber.

There are public meetings about the Washington State Ferries service to the island (6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, at Vashon High School Theater), candidates for public office (7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, at Vashon Presbyterian Church) and affordable housing (5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, Vashon Center for the Arts.)

A seminar on caregiving presented by the Vashon Care Network (see page 7) is another opportunity, as is the chance to bask in a revival of a beloved, Vashon-centric variety show, celebrating the creativity of our community, at Open Space for Arts & Community (see page 8).

In the meantime, show — and ask for — some love to and from the people for whom you care the most.