March 20, 2013 - One of the reasons I've stayed here for nearly 14 years is the real sense of community. To me, the essence of community is people helping people whether it's through a kind word, a caring act or a hand extended in friendship.
Community means people actively choosing to be a part of each other's lives and help make their little corner of the world a nice place because it's the right thing to do and the best way to live.
As the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius observed, "We are made for cooperation, like the hands, like the feet."
Sometimes I despair that our area's true sense of community is being eroded on a daily basis by those who seek to remake things according to their own slick vision.
I fear that in the quest to be viewed as grander than we truly are, we're losing our sense of self, which cannot be found in inane slogans, branding campaigns, shallow marketing or shiny facilities.
We're so obsessed with appearances and getting noticed by the outside world that it seems like nothing else matters.
I don't know if the Oxford/Addison area was necessarily a better place 10 years ago, but it definitely was a more genuine place than it is now because it wasn't desperately trying to be something it's not.
Fortunately, I still find little pockets of that community I fell in love with.
Covering Lakeville resident Bob Smith's 95th birthday on Sunday was one of those little pockets.
Smith, who bears the honorary title of mayor in Addison's unincorporated village, is about as genuine as it gets.
He truly enjoys the company of others and makes those around him feel good just by showing up. And how does the community repay him for simply being him?
They take care of him on a daily basis. They see to his needs and keep tabs on him. They throw him birthday parties.
I loved Addison Township Deputy Supervisor Sherry Beens' quote, "It takes a village to raise Bob."
Not only is it funny and clever, it's also touching because these folks truly see Smith as their responsibility.
They have no legal or familial obligations to him. They could easily ignore him and go about their daily lives as so many of us do when it comes to senior citizens.
But they don't because Smith is part of their community and in the end, that's what matters most to them.
Maybe there's hope for us yet.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.