CLARENCE PAGE, Chicago Tribune: "Community" is a Rorschach word. How you define it says something about how you see your world.
We can think of community as a place, a neighborhood like this one, Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C., or a section of Washington like Georgetown, or a metro region, like the greater Washington area, which spills over into Virginia and Maryland.
Sometimes we define it by a shared culture or a voting bloc, the black community, the gay community, the Hispanic community, and so on. As the Internet melts away old boundaries of tribes and places like icebergs in the tropical sun, we chat increasingly in online communities, input your data locally and commune globally, united for better or worse by our interests, language, and values.
You can't always define community, but you know it when you don't see it. You don't see it, for example, in chaotic scenes like this, this year's Black Friday shopping rush at a Long Island Wal-Mart, a nightmare before Christmas that left one man dead and several other people trampled underfoot.
Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men fell to a more primitive sentiment: Every man for himself.
Community is quite the opposite. An expression of caring about something larger than yourself that also cares back. That was how an old neighbor of mine, the author, radio host, and oral historian Studs Terkel used to look at it.
When NPR asked him to write an essay for their "This I Believe" series, his response was clear and direct.
LOUIS "STUDS" TERKEL, Broadcast and Author: And I put it in three words: community in action.