Community, Community Building, Community Development, Friendship

Pleasantries: the Hydrogen Bond of Community Building?

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Do you remember your organic chemistry? Do you remember those little H-bonds, who were not in themselves strong enough to hold a molecular structure together, but were strong enough to change properties of, say, water? The ones that make a molecule wrap itself differently, and/or make it a little stronger?

I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with pleasantries. On the one hand, it is much nicer to be faced with a bunch of smiles and good mornings when coming in to work. On the other, I felt so superficial at times, especially when I would basically be camping in my office (sleeping bag and supplies not included), barely talking to others while I would rush through my day.

I was pouring myself some water this morning when it hit me: pleasantries are like the hydrogen bond of community building. Alone, they do not create cohesion, but, when there is already a community, they strengthen it, and can even affect the way this community looks. My discomfort with pleasantries is probably due to the fact that I realize that they are an essential part of community building, but that they are, in themselves, not enough.

Which means that I can continue with said pleasantries to my heart’s content, as long as they are not replacing efforts to create strong bond of friendships, which are, as we know it, based on much more than pleasantries.

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 10 April 2012

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