The importance of community

I think we live in a world where it’s so easy to feel alone and isolated. I have talked to so many friends who pretty much said this very thing. When they’re going through a really tough situation, or encounter personal problems, they feel like they can’t tell anybody about it. Not only that, but they feel like they’re the only ones who ever felt that way. Because they feel so uniquely special in that regard, they don’t reach out to others out of fear that what they’re going through is something alien to other human beings. To admit their problem is to admit their weirdness or their other-ness. “Normal people don’t feel like this,” is probably the thought that they tell themselves.

This is the farthest thing from reality. The reality is that people go through tough times. People can get angry. People can feel jealousy. People can be lonely. In fact, these are the very things that remind us of our shared humanity. Our very brokenness may be the very link that binds us to one another as human beings.

While I was doing a research on the topic of Sabbath for one of my papers, I came across an article where the author (who was a non-practicing Jew) decided to try the whole Sabbath thing. She mentioned that it was easier to not work on Sabbath when she was surrounded by others who also didn’t work on the Sabbath. By surrounding ourselves with like-minded and like-hearted people, difficult things can become slightly easier. The problem still remains, except now, you have a support system that you can lean on when the problem occurs.

And that’s what is so great about community. It allows people not only to be themselves, but find themselves. When we are surrounded by a group of people who can act as our buffer against the vitriolic waves of life, it allows us to be stronger and better than if we try to face it on our own. Sometimes, we have to find –  and sometimes we have to create – that community. I found a great online Twitter community in #usguys. I’m constantly amazed at how people in this online community show such trust, authenticity and care. Personally, I try to surround myself with a select group of like-minded and like-hearted friends who I can go to in times of need. Because of these people, I am better, stronger, and wiser.

An old proverb once said “it takes a village to raise a child.” Likewise, it takes a village to raise an adult.

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2 thoughts on “The importance of community

  1. Like it Sid, a relatively simple concept that, nonetheless, is easily buried by the minutiae of daily life. Often we just settle into life with whoever is nearest, rather than being selective about those we gather around, leading to exactly the kind of uncomfortable disconnect with our real self that you talk about here. A speaker at a conference I attended on Saturday said much the same thing… life’s tough, so why would we make things more difficult for ourselves by allowing in too many people who detract from our vision of how we want to live?

    On the other hand, I do think it’s important to have people around who will challenge our default way of thinking and offer a fresh perspective. We shouldn’t always remain in our comfort zone and need to have access to those who will shake us up, from time to time. It should always be constructive, though, so that whatever challenges are posed lead to a better solution or refined opinion that is all the stronger for having been confronted.

    Strike that right balance of supportive and challenging people around you and I think life becomes far more enjoyable. Good thoughts, thanks for provoking them and being one of those valued people!

    1. Steve – I couldn’t agree more! We all need people in our lives who are different from us so we can be challenged to face our oh so many blind spots that they can lovingly point out to us and in the process, we become better people.

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