Thoughts for the New Year — HOA reforms

I just watched the ABC Barbara Walters special, Heaven, where is it? How do we get there?” Part of this special was a discussion with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. It made me revisit the Dalai Lama’s book, Ethics for the New Millennium (1999).

In the first chapter, The Dalai Lama speaks of the effect of western materialism and the overriding emphasis on material wealth and property. He states that western society is suffering from the increasing isolation of people, of neighbors;a lack of caring and concern for others; and that a true compassion for the feelings of others, including one’s neighbors, has caused many social problems with a negative affect on the community. He reflects this attitude by westerners,

“But with these developments, there has arisen a sense that my future is not dependent on my neighbor but rather on my job or, at most, my employer. This in turn encourages us to suppose that because others are not important for my happiness, their happiness is not important to me.” . . . . “According to my understanding, our overemphasis on material gain reflects an underlying assumption that what it can buy can, by itself alone, provide us with all the satisfaction we require.”

Talking with a good friend of mine, she and her husband enjoy friendly and good relations with their neighbors, together setting up holiday lights and other festivities. I asked if she lived in an HOA; she answered, no. That’s not surprising since planned communities with HOA governance have an underlying premise that your neighbor cannot be trusted, and must be watched vigilantly. Otherwise, as the promoters maintain, property values, upon which people in local communities are more and more basing their happiness, will suffer drastically. That your neighbor, not YOU, but those other guys, will choose purple polka-dotted houses and insist on their right to fix their cars in their driveway. Such an unreal view, as we all know but may not wish to admit, is the legacy of HOA governance of planned communities. And the promoters of this false happiness are at fault.

Happiness in an HOA is based upon, as any other authoritarian government, strict acceptance, obedience and conformity to arbitrary, financially oriented rules, not rules designed to foster individual, personal happiness leading to healthy community relations. In my view, such an underlying premise — conformance and obedience — is at the root of the deterioration of healthy, productive communities.

Yet, state legislatures insist that HOAs are indeed good for everyone and benefit society in general. And while they argue for the First Amendment right to free association, they fail to see First Amendment violations resulting from compelled speech — the elimination of a free choice in comparable housing as a result of mandated HOA subdivisions, and the continued promotion, support and entwinement between government and private organizations.

Those and who have the power and authority to correct this deterioration of societal and community values, and who shape public policy, have much to ponder for the new year. I hope corrective actions will come forth in the upcoming year for a better society.

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Published in: on December 21, 2005 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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