Posted by: David M. Hazen | June 16, 2012

What is community?

Community = a group of people that communicate, or commune, albeit at different levels and nonetheless held together by common understandings of what is valued, what is good, so it is primarily a moral group. So today, conservatives are not my community, progressives are, and if we could all dig down to discover our common denominator human needs without labels and blame, our boundaries would dissolve greatly and we would tend to become one united community. As we draw boundaries around ourselves, we tear apart the sense of community. I don’t think there is an “exact” point where community is gone, because it is within each individual where the decision is made as to which community they belong or not, but clearly one who is contemplating suicide has lost their community. Someone who stands at the edge of a dance party without dancing, but does not leave the party, is both a part of and apart from the community. Ultimately, I believe the end of community for a person is an illusion, they are never alone, so I prefer to think about strengthening the community sense that we all have already.

Is a community ever a reliably solid experience? Our experience, our internal awareness of what’s happening, is usually what we refer to with the word “real.” However, both science and religion are telling us that our experience is very transitory, ephemeral, constructed with extremely small amounts of hard data, and is most likely an illusion, a magical one at that, and yet that’s all we have, so we have to be the ones who assume the ability to respond, to be response-able to create it.

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