In my city’s buyer’s cooperative, the planning has already begun, two months out, for our country’s oddly placed Thanksgiving. A few hour’s brainstorming has already expanded the vague notion that “someone really ought to organize a group buy for these things we will all be needing” to a virtual fair of homemade delicacies, a plan for a leftovers potluck, multiple offers of hospitality to those without family to celebrate the holiday with, and shopping lists for not one, but two kinds of donation boxes to distribute to members of our community – ingredients for those who are too poor to afford them and ready-made for those who are unable to cook their own this year. The whole thing has been a natural outpouring of the enthusiasm and joy which the members of this cooperative have brought to everything this group has undertaken. It has also been a response to their natural desire for harmony.
Now, when I say harmony, I am not surprised if you think first of musical harmony – the creation of beautiful sounds from different notes produced simultaneously. However, musical harmony is just one form of harmony – there is the harmony which can exist between people and the even greater harmony of the cosmos, with which we try to align ourselves when we are being good – the very definition of rightness. The very start of the buyer’s cooperative came from one mother’s desire for this rightness – it seemed wrong to her that all the mothers she knew who wanted to buy the same things online would have to pay separate shipping when they could order together and pay to ship to one house and divide the big order up there with just a little cooperation.
Understand that in a society that praises competition, self-reliance, and individualism in all its members, it is the mothers, who are often the last to leave the home and hearth due to simple necessity, who still crave harmony the most. Home without harmony gives no rest to the heart, and even a soul-sick society still senses this.
The seed of a single coordinated online purchase has sprouted and grown into a vast enterprise bringing humanely raised meat, organic produce, and other harmoniously produced goods to hundreds of members on a weekly basis. Several of these people are pouring so much of their time and talent in that they operate at what I have heard called an economic loss – that is, their talents could be applied elsewhere for greater monetary gain. At one point I worried that these leaders would discover this and vanish – our society values money so much. However, looking over the posts on the Thanksgiving board, I am no longer afraid. They are, as I am, receiving value – a spiritual sustenance as nourishing as food – from the harmony this group is generating. The opportunity cost of their going to work for wages instead isn’t one any of us can readily afford.