COMMUNITY

Within me there is a community of many different things: body and mind, spirit and soul – quite aside from all the physical elements. The key thing is that there is a state of well-being and harmony between all the constituent elements. As it is within it is without.

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A community, in the traditional sense, is a support network, a bulwark for the people within it. With wise counsel, it can sustain and nurture the individual and enable him or her to become a fully-fledged member of that community; to have a collective identity greater than themselves; to belong.

This was the way in which older societies functioned for much of human history. But with the trend towards urbanisation over the last few hundred years this kind of community has been gradually dying out.

But the need for community amongst human beings hasn’t died out. Because we need to belong. We need to feel part of something greater than ourselves.

The problem is that a community is only effective if it grows organically. Just as a tree grows up from its roots, so does a community. If people are cut off from their roots, they will be starved of the oxygen they need to live effectively as a community. Just as a tree cannot grow artificially, any true sense of community cannot grow artificially.

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All manner of communities have sprung up in recent times. Everything from religion through to seduction. The attraction of any community is the idea of ‘strength in numbers’ or ‘common purpose’: that with the support of others, you can do things that you couldn’t have done on your own. However, beware. ‘Strength in numbers’ can just as easily be ‘weakness in numbers’.

If you joined a community because you felt worthless and powerless, this sense of inadequacy could well be magnified and exacerbated within the community. Particularly so, if you are expected to follow the dictates of others without question; if instead of thinking for yourself, you let others think for you.

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I believe that, as we move through the 21st century, it is necessary to change the context in which community exists. That a grander vision is necessary. For the entire human community. That we can no longer set ourselves apart by forming clusters which contain a few like-minded individuals. If you haven’t noticed, there is trouble brewing out there. If we continue to set ourselves apart, we might all be forced together one day. In extinction.


© Phillip A. Klein March 2008

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Published in: on March 13, 2008 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment