Me and my son Joe and my granddaughter Mena finally got a chance to go see “Beasts of the Southern Wild” the other day. That whole freaking movie deserves an Oscar. It’s definitely got my vote. Wow!
And the movie’s main plot-line (which involved people idealistically working together to save their small town) reminded me strongly of my own housing co-op where I have lived for the past 33 years.
And this so-called housing “cooperative” once started off all idealistically too. Back then, we too had grand and idealistic intentions of working together for the common good — sort of like how the framers of the U.S. Constitution back in 1776 or whenever had put forth their own dreams of what a more perfect union would look like.
But gradually, over the years, my small housing co-op shamelessly degenerated into a bunch of self-seeking, self-interested individuals who would do anything to get a leg up. Corruption, apathy, conflict-of-interest, nepotism, lethargy, back-stabbing and bickering ruled the day among most of the residents. And, physically, the place soon started falling apart. I’m talking about major failing infrastructure here.
And so I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life fighting like crazy to get a re-hab to happen here at my housing co-op. And it finally did. And it’s a wonderful re-hab, don’t get me wrong. The contractors are doing a great job. But the process is truly intense. The whole infrastructure is being replaced, repaired and/or remodeled — almost from the ground up. Inside and out. And they are doing it while over fifty families are all living here too.
And the pressure of this intensive re-hab, as people struggle to get their life-long belongings all packed up in boxes, their walls pounded on by a whole battalion of workers, their siding and roofs torn off and put back on again and their heating and plumbing and bathrooms and carpets and kitchens replaced — it’s almost like the pressure of the storms, floods and new levees pressing down on that small town in “Beasts”. And this pressure has also acted to bring my own “small town” together again too and to finally, maybe, even become a real co-op again.
Or I could just be a dreaming idealist like Hush Puppy in the movie — but I hope not.
But is there a moral here somewhere? Sure, of course. Just like a huge disaster had brought a small town together in “Beast of the Southern Wild,” now our massive (but wonderful) re-hab is finally getting my housing co-op members to actually cooperate with each other for their own good. And who knows? Perhaps the many disasters that are also facing America these days will also finally unite us all into working together for our common good too — instead of all too many of us acting like aurochs toward each other, tearing at each others’ throats and ripping each other apart.