Many Communities 2

Submitted by Paul Born on November 22, 2011 - 11:50am
Part 2

Toward a definition of Community:

I have long struggled to find an acceptable definition of community. I find one I like and then in a little while I find another. As you will have surmised by reading this chapter there are so many good quotes and definitions it is easy to get excited about everyone of them.

For me, though the definitions help me to understand different aspects of community many leave me with a need to either accept or reject the definition.

As a “seeker” I often consider community as an ideal state that I am trying to achieve. The problem is I seem to always fall short and therefore, even when community is here in the now, right in front of me, I know that I am experiencing it - I still strive for the ideal state, that time and place where I feel deep belonging, a sense of fullness with others and therefore am seldom able to embrace the moment and the people with whom I am in community, without feeling a nagging that there could me more than this, or if only…this would be ideal.

I want to find a definition of community that allows me to embrace the moment, to experience it when I feel it. To embrace community as it is, in the now, how it is without judgment or comparing it to an ideal state.

For most of us in today’s chaotic world the ideal state of community is illusive, to live in the ideal state of community with others requires far to much commitment – one few of us are willing to make. That does not mean I am proposing a simple understanding of community or even an easy one but rather am appealing for a broader definition that allows us to embrace community as it is when it is.

I want to move toward a different way of looking at community, one that embraces many experiences. 

There are five principles of community from my research that resonate with me.  These principles are for me are the underlying assumptions of my definition and are foundational in my understanding of community.

The five are:

  • One, Seeking Community is natural.
  • Two, we all have many communities in our lives and
  • Three we can choose to deepen our experience of community.
  • Four, seeking community is a part of our spiritual journey and
  • Five healthy Community leads to individual and collective altruism.
2 thoughts

Hi Paul, I had two thoughts when I read this blog:

First is the idea of contentment.  You mention how with community so often we are striving for more or for better.  I think this is one of the great chronic challenges of our generation.  We have lost the ability to be content with the moment we are in.  I think if we can first learn how to be content, healhty community can soon follow.

Second is a question around community and time commitment.  I feel like so often when we talk about community we talk about a fellow person or groups of people (why not animals or plants or ecosystems??) that we are connecting with over some period of time.  My question is, is it not possible to have a deep and profound feeling of community with a person that we have just met, for example on a bus.  We may only be with this person for 10 minutes or less and will never see them again, but is it possible to have a deeper connection with them than with someone we see on a more regualr basis?

What are your thoughts?