Saturday, August 9, 2008

Why do we need community?

Sometimes the world looks very complicated and unfriendly. Mass communication, including the internet, has put information in front of us that people could never have imagined when I was born. We now get detailed information, sometimes minute by minute, about missing children, cheating politicians, war horrors, and millions of other glimpses of lives around the globe.
And yet, most people old enough to remember another generation feel there is less of a sense of community than ever before. People are more mobile and often do not live in the area where they grew up. Families are spread out across the country or even the world. Neighbors do not know one another. We no longer have the long histories with one another which used to go back generations.
Why is that important? History and community provide context and perspective to our lives. When we are personally connected to a broader number of people living around us, we have a greater sense of our interconnection – the impact of our actions or inaction on the lives of those sharing this life experience with us.
In a recent workshop we were asked to consider what would happen if we were suddenly placed in a survival situation with a random group of people. Imagine you are in the grocery store and suddenly the world is gone somehow. The people there are now Your People. You must make a community. It includes the dirty, stinky man in isle 10, the radical church lady at the counter, the goth kids in the back, the macho man, the crazy lady, the beauty queen, lesbians and gay men as well. Now what?
The reality is, that is exactly the world we live in. These are all our people. We share this space and time. We live in a diverse world. We need to hear one another. We have a responsibility to ensure that all voices are heard. It is a shared responsibility.
As GLBT people we need to build our community as a support for one another. But we also need to be an open and active part of the larger community in order to hear and be heard. Get out, be involved. Survival will get a whole lot easier.

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