Welcome to the second BlogFlash event! The first (#BlogFlash2012) was so well received that we decided to run it twice yearly. It’s a great opportunity to get creative, meet other bloggers and get a new audience. Whether you join us for the full month or just a few days, the main aim is to have fun and be inspired. Anything else is a bonus. Worried about word count? Don’t be! It’s a guideline so the month doesn’t feel overwhelming but if you feel inspired to write more, feel free. Good luck!

#BlogFlash2013: Day Sixteen – Community

#BlogFlash2013 (March): Day 16 - CommunityThis week, two high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio, were convicted of raping a young woman from a nearby town in West Virginia. The 16-year-old met the boys at a party where alcohol flowed like water. In the coming hours, they drove or carried the intoxicated girl from party to party, where they digitally raped and photographed her. She woke the next morning in an unfamiliar house, naked, in a room with three young men. The girl had no idea what had happened, until she heard the stories the boys were sharing and saw the humiliating photos they’d texted, emailed, and posted online.

The conduct of those boys-they laughed and joked and bragged about their behavior, disparaging the girl for having been ‘dead,’ and of every witness who watched and said nothing, was gut-wrenchingly horrific, lacking in the most basic common decency-yet, in the weeks and months that followed, many in town rallied around their football players. Community has a powerful influence on its members; as with most groups, the majority decides which members to elevate and which to punish and ostracize. In Steubenville, in a shameful display of callous indifference, many people in town defended the rapists.

In depressed areas like Steubenville, a winning team gives people hope and so it becomes larger than life. Still, as understandable as this adulation might be, by rallying around the abusers Steubenville failed as a community and its members failed themselves. Our community is our home. At home, we ought to feel nurtured and protected. Yes, by getting drunk the girl made a mistake. Alcohol and drug use-these are mistakes that can be rectified, that kids can learn from. Yet all too often it’s kids who break minor or arbitrary rules who are alienated, while monsters with neither empathy nor compassion, if they bring glory to the community-through their academic, athletic, or business feats-are celebrated as heroes.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Communities need not compromise their values, celebrating ruthless local celebrities who hurt indiscriminately and rarely give back. Why not rally instead around kids who are lost? When we band together for the good-to care for the sick, the elderly, the young, to help families in times of need, to celebrate, to bear witness, to build a playground or harvest crops, to read, to sing, to educate, to grieve-we build lasting bonds. In a nurturing, protective community, we have a real home. Through connection, we find true, abiding hope and real strength to weather our storms.

Next prompt: Water (25th March)

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