Friday, September 20, 2019

The essence of community, the heart of the matter

Dwain Naftal, Goodland Resident is like our very own Angel of the Road.

Dwain Naftal, Goodland Resident is like our very own Angel of the Road.

The motion, the colors, and the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico, the huge sky, and the stars at night are just moments away from the rigors of the day. The wide open spaces and bounty of life in the Everglades, and the subtle change of seasons are all at our fingertips while living in this most southern portion of southwest Florida. Blooming hibiscus, bougainvillea, the pineapples, the flowering citrus trees, avocado and mango in my yard, the water lapping, fish jumping, and palm fronds swaying in the breeze are all at arm’s reach living on this four-by-seven-mile island.

Wikipedia says this about a community: “A community of place is a community of people who are bound together because of where they reside, work, visit, or otherwise spend a continuous portion of their time.” Wikipedia’s definition seems to be missing something. Love, lending a helping hand, offering a smile, an embrace, a kind word, feeling empathy, withholding judgment, having a heart of goodness are just a few qualities which add strength to oneself, to one another, and to the community in which we live.

Maybe it is my age or the wisdom of life’s experiences over the years, but the appreciation of my unbridled fortune in raising three sons on Marco Island, and the addition of friendships beginning 30 years ago, is remarkable. The strength of bond that we all had during cub scouts, “thousands” of baseball and football games, parties, boating, and school functions that began so long ago, seems to become only stronger as I see children who grew up with my sons now visit their parents with children of their own.

Marco Island is a relatively new community and, like

The Gewirtz family enjoys reuniting on Resident’s Beach.

The Gewirtz family enjoys reuniting on Resident’s Beach.

everything and everyone else, continues to evolve. On Marco Island, including Goodland and Isles of Capri, seasonal as well as year-round residents come from a multitude of places, encompassing just as many ideas of what comprises an ideal community. Because of this diversity, discord is sometimes evident and mainly makes breaking and headline news. It is essential that we have those in the community who ask questions, participate in government, and strive to figure out what in the world is going on, attempting to arrive at some type of satisfactory answer or truth. It is necessary to hear different opinions and views on issues. How frightening it would be to be only allowed to hear or to express one direction of thought. However, it is vitally important that those who focus on the problems strive to see and to appreciate the opposite also—all of the positive aspects of our life together here in this beautiful community. In order to improve, it is necessary to make different choices, to see solutions in a new light, to anticipate with excitement, faith and hope, a life full of possibilities, appreciation, and joy.

The heart of the matter is that the community is composed of its people—all of us individuals. The vision for well-being and goodness in each one of us, manifested in how we treat one another, is a continuing process and is reflected in the people in our lives, and thus, automatically branches out indefinitely. The community which has grown substantially on this largest of the ten thousand island system is strong in spirit, and the majority of its individuals possess the inner vision for well-being and goodness towards family, friend, and neighbor.

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