Community: the thing that shapes us into the people we are and become.
Community: the one thing that most of us want, but aren’t willing to fight for.
Community: a romantic notion of doing life with people, but in reality it’s hard, messy and often difficult to attain. We like the idea of community, but we are rarely willing to put in the time and effort to achieve it.
In an individualistic society like ours, community is something we value in theory, but rarely value it in practice… we think we do, but we don’t. I say this confidence, because at the end of the day most of us don’t look at our communities and say, “I belong to them and they belong to me.” Most often we underestimate the influence that one person has over the other.
As I read through Social Animal by David Brooks, I was once again struck by the idea of interconnectedness. Even the fact that our society values individuality and individual ideas is an indication of the power that one person has in influencing another. We moved from a community-based society into an individual based society because our communities as a whole moved towards this… simply put, one person had the idea and the other tagged along.
It is a healthy community that produces healthy individuals. Without a healthy community… or without a community, people do not form healthy attachments resulting in unhealthy relationships with other people or the world around us.
It is in our families that we first encounter community, and it is in this community, made up of a mother, a father and a child, that we first learn how to interact with the world around us. We underestimate the importance of family and the individual roles that one family member plays in the life of the other. I think that because our world is so broken, we have started to underestimate the value of parents because many people don’t want to live up to the responsibility. So instead of raising or maintaining the bar, we brought it low so that we would feel better about ourselves in thinking that we’ve achieved it. The bar is low because we don’t like failure… but in lowering the bar we have failed to see the consequences that absent mothers and fathers have on the next generation.
If I had to sum up Brooks’ book in one short statement I would say, you reap what you sow, so be intentional about what you sow.