I have been thinking about the word community.
We all live within different communities, and not just talking about where we physically live. That’s one community, but we have the community of our family, our work community, church community, social media community, and you can think of others.
Starting as a Chaplain, the medical community has been interesting to me. People who are deeply caring and deeply into science at the same time. Much of my work life has been spent in the education and fundraising communities. Educators are people who are also deeply caring and interested in making people stronger through learning. Fundraising communities have people passionate about a cause and aligning people who want to help financially. Church communities love coffee, eating, and God. Sometimes in that order.
Now the individuals in our communities are different, we don’t always agree, we have differing approaches, we have dysfunction, but there is a common thread of connection or bond that holds us together.
Has something happened to community?
I asked my Facebook community how they would define community. The first comment was a long quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who is pretty much gold no matter what he writes. My interpretation of his quote was don’t build a community, BE community and God will build.
In defining community, there were comments like: common unity; shared strength; come and share unity; persons who live, work and play for themselves as well as for others; intentional love and sacrifice for unity and belonging; a place of belonging, affection, and recognition; shared strength and opportunity; an ability to be flexible and surround others with tangible and intangible things; shared purpose of unity and belonging; gifts for the betterment of the whole, weaknesses are “protected” because of other’s strengths; people gathered with shared interests and commitments; inclusion, diversity, living in a way where one may not agree, but is respectful of differences; sharing, helping others, feeling connected; acceptance in the midst of diversity; people that share common ideas, beliefs, or interests and are interdependent.
What 2020 has shown me is the impact to our communities. Many are working or schooling from home. We don’t go out for meals with friends. Our families connect less frequently. Our elderly loved ones are trapped away. We’ve become insulated, and impactfully distant from our communities.
My dad said that the combine ruined his farming community, because no one needed each other anymore. People could harvest crops on their own. My worry is 2020 has been a combine year and made us even more selfish and self-centered.
We’re spending too much time navel gazing, so our perspective isn’t intentional love for others, common unity, surrounding others, inclusion, belonging, protecting other’s weaknesses with our strengths it’s —
“I don’t like watching our pastor on online.”
“You can’t tell me to wear a mask.”
“Teachers don’t have to do anything now.”
“Your hospital visitation policy is ridiculous.”
“I’m going to the (large gathering) because I’m tired of all this.”
Instead of sacrifice, protecting others, caring, sharing, recognizing needs, respect of differences, interdependence, helping and acceptance it’s –
Sending an insulting tweet or post.
Rejecting people who have a different opinion.
Dismissing those who are injured or voiceless.
Believing in conspiracy because it’s easier than the truth.
Personal freedom that always comes before the good of the whole.
There will be a time, hopefully sooner than later, that we can be safely back together. There appears to be light at the end of a very long tunnel. Some will come out better, some won’t be the same.
Read through the descriptions of community again, listed above. Then pause and think about the many communities that you are a part of and consider –
What is my role?
How have I helped or hindered my community?
Where have I been selfish or self-centered?
Who are the people that energize me as we work, live, and play?
Do we need each other? Is it time to “sell the combine”?