On Green Jelly Beans, Ducks and Community On Green Jelly Beans, Ducks and Community

Will someone please tell me what is wrong with green jelly beans?  The remaining Easter candy in our dish on the table consists of a few Twix bars, some chocolate eggs and a whole host of green jelly beans. I sort of doubt anyone has even tried them.  I am betting they have been rejected because they are simply not as visibly appealing as the orange ones.

Because I was feeling bad for the little green guys, I decided to consume them out of deep compassion.  While not as good as the orange, which are my favorite by far, their sugar content was certainly more than satisfactory.

As I was being the jelly bean martyr for my family, I started thinking about our ducks.  Now I don’t know anything about ducks except that apparently the male ducks are the ones with striking color, which, as you no doubt can now see, links my jelly bean question to my duck story—color.

Anyway, every year as the torrential rains come and our neighbor’s property is transformed into lakefront property, I am always happy to see our ducks return.  This duck couple, who have been together for many years, blissfully float around, enjoying their new saturated landscape.

The reason for our neighbor’s flooding goes back to the beginning of time, long before we moved in.  Apparently, our house and yard were built up by using our neighbor’s soil, leaving his yard depressed and ours high and dry. Our current problem is that the culvert under our driveway makes everything back up even worse into his front yard. We are trying to resolve the problem, looking into getting the culvert fixed.

But until that happens, I was thinking maybe we should build an ark and invite our neighbor to join us. Our next guests would be our duck couple, of course, although I’m not really sure what you would do with ducks on an ark, seeing as the point of the ark is to be dry.  Nevertheless, it seems like the right thing to do.

And I am all about doing the right thing, having done the wrong thing on more than one occasion.  It never feels good, does it, when we do the wrong thing?  Worse, I think, is when we know we are doing the wrong thing and we do it anyway.

St. Paul, in the New Testament book of Romans (7:15) knew all about this dilemma.  He said, “What I do, I do not understand.  For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.”

We are all human and we all sin.  None of us can escape this reality.  It is good news that we are not alone as we strive for holiness in the midst of our inclination to sin.  If we work to help each other, to lift each other up, we quickly discover that the individualism so prominent in our culture today, is not healthy.

It should be within our community—our modern-day ark—that we experience the power of God, and enjoy great love and support from our neighbor.  We must help each other try to do the right thing.  When we, as a community, choose good, it lifts up our society as a whole.  And when we, as a community, choose poorly, it takes us all down together.

A common notion today is that I can do whatever I want to do because it is my right and it doesn’t hurt anyone else.  That idea is just ridiculous.  Since we live in community, with others, what we do as individuals affects other people.

The weakening of community today—whether it is the community of our family, our parish life, or even our basic social structure—is proving quite detrimental. Paradoxically, as our communication methods have grown, our ability to communicate effectively, and meaningfully, hasn’t.

The sad thing is, we don’t even realize this phenomenon is taking place because it is happening so quickly.  We look around us and wonder what is happening to the family and marriage, our societal lack of morals and our seeming inability to pass on the faith to our children, but we do not relate it to the fragmentation that is taking place within the communities in which we live.

The more disconnected we become, the more difficult it is to support each other.  The less we support each other, the more unhealthy we become.  We think we are connected, but the fact is, merely exchanging information is not the same as being in a relationship.

I forgot to mention something else about our ducks.  One day we watched the male duck cross the street ahead of the female duck.  As he moved safely across, leading the way, she then followed.

If ducks know what it means to be in a relationship and support each other, seems like we could figure it out!

Copyright 2013 Janet Cassidy