Is Community the Answer?
I’ve Fallen in Love with Community
Yes, in love. Why? Two reasons – the personal one and the global one.
I love how it feels to be a part of a community and I know this feeling can extend from the personal to the global. Community can change the world. Community is changing the world: The movement has already begun.
We are creatures wired for community. In the early days of our evolution, our very survival depended on our ability to band together, to work as a cohesive, organized group. Times have changed. Our struggle today is no longer physical. It is emotional. We’re not fighting saber-tooth tigers; we’re fighting loneliness, depression, addiction, and anxiety. Our need for community is as great as it ever was, perhaps greater.
This is why we need a new definition of community. In the old community, we gathered with our neighbours to replace a home destroyed by fire, to take up arms to protect borders, to meet the challenges of the elements offering support, food, and shelter. Today, when we talk about community we are talking about emotional bonding and support. Community, itself, is evolving.
What Does it Mean to be a Part of a Community?
It means you belong, that, as the old theme song from Cheers says, “Everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.” It means we are committed to the group – we care about it and the members of it – and we know we are all in this together.
Like the communities of old, we support one another and we collaborate about the issues we face, but unlike those communities, the new community doesn’t have just one leader. Instead, there is a recognition that everyone has his or her gifts, everyone has gifts to contribute. When we honor the power of the group rather than submit to the ambitions of a few who seek to hold and maintain power we are stronger and wiser. There is no hierarchy, no power struggle in the new community. The shape of the new community is not a pyramid. It’s a circle.
Two Factors of the New Community Distinguish it from the Old
Authenticity In the community of today, communication happens on a deeper, authentic level. Since there is no power struggle there is no need for posturing: Everyone already is recognized, valued and appreciated. We don’t need to be anyone but the perfectly imperfect, wonderful human being that we are.
Inclusivity The new community does not fortify itself by erecting barriers to keep others out. It recognizes that our small community is but a part of the larger community, cities are part of states, states are part of countries, countries are part of continents, continents are part of the world. If we close our borders to protect ourselves, we cut ourselves off from the riches of our global community.
Is Community the Answer?
No. But it is only in community that we will find the answer. The power struggles that have plagued our existence since the beginning of time have failed to solve the world’s problems. Look closely at the little girl in the photo. We need to find answers for her, for our children and for our grandchildren. We’ve looked everywhere else and come up empty. In our heart of hearts, we know that together we are better.
Community building is the path to “together”.
Photo Credit: Sébastien GARNIER