04/04/2011 07:21 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

We Survive Through Community, Not Individualism

A friend of mine forwarded the following email to me. It came from a woman in Sendai following the earthquake and tsunami. I keep thinking that there has to be a way to capture this sense of community and caring for one another without having to have a crisis.

Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit together in their cars, looking at news on navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."

No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then there is a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People line up for water and food, and yet some people are out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty include the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled.

The mountains of Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks and even other major quakes for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel a part of something happening much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me.

I remember stories of sharing like this after 9/11 and Katrina. Then I read stories like the one in The New York Times in which no one would stop to help a man stuck on a freeway, at least until a poor migrant family showed up to help.

I wish there were a cosmic shift going on, as the writer said, but in the United States, where we honor "rugged individualism" over community care and sharing, I think the Earth will have to make some drastic moves before the dominant mindsets shift.

I can barely stomach the selfishness represented by our current crop of budget-slashing politicians. They represent the extreme of putting individual gain and free markets at a higher status than community responsibility. My own state legislators are focused more on ensuring that we can carry guns than they are on strengthening the education and healthcare in our communities, two things that we desperately need to rebuild our strength in the marketplace after being slammed by the economic tsunami.

Our corporate leaders aren't much better. Few know how to foster an inspiring sense of community in the workplace. The sole focus on profit suffocates the spirit of cooperation and drains the passion out of our workers. At the core of our economic crisis is a spiritual crisis that began at least 100 years ago.

Short of a natural crisis, what will it take to bring back a sense of community? If our leaders won't do this, what can we do to demonstrate how beautiful life can be when we come together out of love instead of fear? Or am I being a naüve idealist?

I hope the words of the young woman from Sendai inspire you to help another human in need today. We can start with one hand-holding at a time.