Went last night with some friends to attend a high school concert their daughter was in. The high school in town is quite a small high school, this being the remote and sparsely populated area that it is. I suspect the several dozen students who took part constitute a significant fraction of the student body. They did a damn good job.
What strikes me about such events -- school concerts, school sports, community events -- is that they have an almost ritual quality about them. We are all participating in something larger than ourselves, students and audience alike. Events like these are part of the glue that binds and holds a community like ours together.
[Insert appropriate Tocquevillian quote here] ;-)
Yet only in my middle age have I arrived at an understanding of the ritual "glue" character of such events. I think back a good many years, to when I myself was a high schooler taking part in various school events, at a larger (but still fairly small) high school far from here. Back then school events meant nothing more to me than an activity I was taking part in; there might be spectators, but I assumed their spectatorship was to them nothing more than an activity they were taking part in. The idea of any greater bond of unity "in, with, and under" the event would never have dawned on me.
No doubt part of it was that I grew up in a family which had an antipathy to communal "glue"; but that's a topic for another time.
I've gradually grown to appreciate the "glue" value of school and other such community events. Not that this will keep me this evening from skipping out of a meeting of a community service club I've belonged to for many years now. Sorry, my return from vacation has already tuckered me out. I need the evening to myself.