Over dinner this past week the joyous birthday celebration of a friend turned somber for a few moments to process the pain that a local tragedy recently inflicted on all those involved. Our conversation covered a range of feelings and judgments, as no doubt occurs in many social gatherings these days, whether the conundrums being discussed are local, national or global.

The next day, while reflecting on the previous night’s exchange, I was led to a recent column by David Brooks in which he linked each of us to these larger challenges.

We all create a shared moral ecology through the daily decisions of our lives. When we stereotype, abuse, impugn motives and lie about each other, we’ve ripped the social fabric and encouraged more ugliness. When we love across boundaries, listen patiently, see deeply and make someone feel known, we’ve woven it and reinforced generosity.

In addition to writing, Brooks is working with the Aspen Institute to promote Weave: The Social Fabric Project, an initiative that encourages each of us to do our part locally.

Social fragmentation is the core challenge of our day. We long to be together, but we are apart. We are isolated by distrust, polarization, trauma and incivility. We live in a hyper-individualistic culture that pays lip service to community but which actually values success above relationship, ego above care, the market above society and tribal divisions over common humanity.

The question for each of us is: What can I do today and tomorrow to replace loneliness, division and distrust with relationship, community and purpose?

How do we answer that question? What threads can each of us weave into the moral ecology of our day? “Listen patiently?”  “Make someone feel known?” “Love across boundaries?” What other gifts of presence or purpose come to mind?