Community can help shape our identity as a collective and interdependent people. It creates the opportunity for us to care for and about others and, in turn, to be cared for, the key interaction that builds a sense of belonging. When we belong and enjoy strong relationships with one another, we can rely on one another in both good and difficult times. This makes us more resilient, and it makes us healthier.
In some ways it is ironic that we call this activity “social” media when so much of it is created by individuals sitting alone at their computers or with their smartphones. That said, many young people are building connections through the Internet, cleverly and determinedly finding ways to connect cybernetic and bricks-and-mortar community.
To deepen community is to find opportunities for ongoing connection with those we care about and those who care about us. This connection strengthens the bonds between us. It builds an emotional resilience within and between us that, in turn, builds mutuality and reciprocity. We begin to open ourselves up to receive and give. Mutual acts of caring become the basis of an ever-stronger feeling of belonging.
The deepest experience of community is the privilege to work together with others to make things better for someone else and for one another. To care about the same things with others and to wish for, and work for, the betterment of those in need. In this way, we become more than we can be by ourselves and together can be something we all are proud of.
When we believe that by cooperating, caring, and reaching out to others, we will harness the wisdom within our diversity, we create the conditions for community.
I often wonder if the only way we can ever really transcend the collective evil we endure as people is to do good together. Maybe loving our enemy and repaying harm with good is the only way to achieve true healing — and, in turn, joy.