There are so many types of communities we are all part of. The possibilities are somewhat endless: Work is one type, a gym, a book club, an exercise class, a religious affiliation, even an appointment you may have where you see the same people time and time again, a social affiliation, a political group, a farmer co-op. etc…. These days “Community” seems to apply for pretty much any collection of individuals regularly gathered. Is that ‘honest’ to the true meaning of the word? In the broadest sense, I say YES. As our worlds become ever expanding, and yet also smaller simultaneously, (a whole other subject!) these smaller more personal communities are important. We need collections, we need to belong, we need comradeship, and sometimes we just need a group verses ourselves as mountain top individuals. According to Wikipedia – “The word “community” is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (com, “with/together” + munus, “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.”
Community evokes inclusive to all. The opposite, and so a traitor to community is exclusivity. What justifies keeping some one out? A bit problematic for the word, the collected group, the so called community. For instance, a yoga class is most likely not to want high noise, frenetic ‘energy’ folks romping and dancing all over the studio and class- so is that exclusion? No. Most likely no one objects to dancing, and most probably even loves it, but not in this setting. So where does exclusion fall? Part of what community is in todays world is a group of willing, at freewill, like minded people gathered for a common purpose, and for the well being of the group – the community. Easy in a yoga class, not so easy, or necessarily as peacefully, in a group such as a homeowner’s association!
The reason I am writing this post today is I am interested in what we call “a community” in today’s world. I use the world freely and often, and it feels good to be part of a like minded group. People need to feel a sense of belonging to something – a community. A family is a very small possible community. We are not islands, by nature most of us want to be part of something, perhaps even bigger than ourselves, or perhaps just a safe place to land and enjoy some like-minded people. There seem to be two elements to creating such a collection, a community, of people. One option is place– a shared location that focuses on a common element. For instance, every other Wednesday, 2 friends and I gather at a location, and spend a very pleasant couple hours – new people (to us) are there as well, and I now consider that a small and very nice “little community” of in this case, woman. I look forward to it, to seeing the same people to say hello to and chat a bit with. It is the location and activity that bring this group together. The second option is common interest– where the people here are gathered by a belief, an occupation, an orientation, an activity, an even an ethic origin. In thinking about all this I found an interesting article. It is called *THE DIFFERENT DRUM – Community Making Peace by M.Scott Peck, M.D.* http://www.enkindlecommunity.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/True-Meaning-of-community.pdf This article states-
” …A friend correctly defined community as a “group that has learned to transcend its individual differences.” But, this learning takes time, the time that can be bought only through commitment. ” Transcend ” does not mean “obliterate” or “demolish.” Lt literally means “to climb over. The achievement of community can be compared to the reaching of a mountaintop.
Perhaps the most necessary key to this transcendence is the appreciation of differences. In community, instead of being ignored, denied, hidden, or changed, human differences are celebrated as gifts.”
So, as this year of 2013 draws to a close- maybe we can celebrate the gifts… join in all the communities you want, partake to the fullest if you so desire… and enjoy all our difference. That sounds like a good way to end one year, and a fabulous way to begin a new year. Together with gifts– (back to French origin) – The gifts of the differences of us all- the wonders of belonging and sharing in a community. Here’s to New Year of acceptance and joy of our communities and gifts they bring us.