As a self-professed, proud nerd, I find it thrilling how understanding constantly evolves. This means that there is always something more to learn! A friend and I had a wonderful moment last week when we felt our brains expand a little bit more around our newfound understanding of the meaning of community. We were discussing how we both often get the feeling that, although those who live near us are friendly, we talk to them often, and we do various activities together, we each still live within the confines of our own life silo, and when they happen to intersect, we spend time together.
Then we wondered: does such a pattern of behavior actually correspond to individuals living in a community? Could our discomfort be due to the fact that perhaps it isn’t?
When we thought about the analogy of the community as a human body, it became pretty clear that no, such a pattern of behavior does not correspond to what community life should be. The various organs in a human body do not just do their own thing and work together only when they have to; they are always in sync with each other, to the point that a small change in one organ is registered in all the others. So somehow, the members of a community have to learn to have such a connection that, as soon as something happens to someone, everyone registers is, and adjusts accordingly.
I have no idea what that actually looks like, and I know that it is going to take time and effort to figure it out. I think we are going to have to greatly redefine the way we define a community, and, consequently, the patterns of behavior that define it. I also think that it means pushing our understanding about the meaning of coherence. A lot of the conversations I have been having with friends about coherence are centered on the individual, and how the different aspects of our lives have to be coherent one with the other. Could the next level of coherence be the one between the members of a community, in which the actions of one are defined by the measure with which it contributes to the advancement of the community?
Image credit: Chad Mauger