Applications of the concept of “Community” span from the geographical to the professional, from the social to the sexual, from the political to the historical, and from the cultural to the hobbyist. Whether you think of your life this way or not, you belong to many different communities.
Some concepts of community are more immediate: we understand that we live in a community because we are from a small town, or a big town, or a city that has geographical communities. Or maybe you’re part of a professional community of manufacturers or merchants or services. It’s possible that your experience with community revolves more around the people you play hockey with on Thursday nights, or the people in your book club, or the other members of your volunteer Board.
As we begin to immerse ourselves in the festivities of this time of year, it’s helpful to think about the communities that we are a part of, and to consider why we belong to them.
Health Benefits of Community
I think it is human nature to want to be part of something bigger. Communities provide us with our “bigger”.
We want and need to belong to something. It helps give us purpose. Or, it provides a vehicle for us to exercise the purpose that we feel so strongly about.
We can take a leadership role if we like and be recognized. Or, we can play a role behind the scenes and get satisfaction that we are making a difference in the community, with our peers and in the world.
Through our communities we ‘commune’ with others with the same interests. No one likes to be alone and our communities provide us with the opportunity to associate with others that have similar interests, whether that is based on location or another interest.
We need our communities more than ever today. With the rapid pace of constant change it can be impossible to keep up and difficult to cope. Our communities provide us with the support we need to meet change head on. Whether it is a source of information and education on the changing environment or a neighbor that steps in to assist with something when you need them, we rely on our communities more than we would like to think.
Wealth Benefits of Community
Our communities help define us. Through our communities we gain legitimacy and status. I’m sure that each of you immediately thought of professional /work communities when you read the last statement. We are an Accountant, Lawyer, Plumber, Mechanic, etc.
However, we also gain definition and status from our other communities. We are Guide Leaders, Scout Leaders, Rotarians, volunteers, good neighbours, or part of the team that built a hotel or put a play on at the local school.
We get great wealth from the communities that we belong to. We often forget just what wealth exists in our communities. We forget to take stock of the wealth in our communities and appreciate what we get from them: confidence, support, recognition, experience, relationships and resources that improve us as people, as professionals, as parents, and as partners.
As with most things, you get back what you put in. Communities only remain healthy if they are cared for and we must participate and contribute to ensure that our community remains vibrant. As we enter the holiday season and begin looking forward to a new year, reflect on the communities that you are a part of and how you ensure they have continued health.