Community: Ideas of common interest, fellowship, cohesion, unity, cooperation, the list could simply go on. But do the above words really describe the feeling of community and what community really is? I think not. Community is something more than can be easily defined by words. It is a feeling, a responsibility and a support network that makes us who we are. It connects our daily lives to those of others and allows for bonds of unity and commonality. This is the community of which I am talking about. But there is another type of community seemingly in opposition to these simple ideas…
There is another idea of community, the concept of perhaps the “Waterloo Community” or the “Laurier Community”. These are two very different ideas of community. These seem to employ a strict geographical and political entity as a basis of definition. There is not seemingly the same idea of cohesion and cooperation. The community may band together on certain issues and circumstances, but the overall day-to-day interactions are very much that of forced greetings and a feeling of obligation to interact. This is not something that is located only within this very area, but is a truth about society as it seems. We live lives that involve many daily interactions and exchanges, but they are often simply that. There is no further basis of interaction; no feeling, no thought, no consideration required. Perhaps this is the result of the system of commodity in which we live.
We have perhaps commodified our daily interactions, something that must be done to get to a particular end, whether such end is simply purchasing groceries or dealing with our banking. Even with people we may see often, there is often an exchange akin to saying “hello” or “what’s up” usually followed by a “See you later”. There is a lacking of substance in such exchanges. Not because we don’t care (though we may not on occasion) but perhaps because we are too busy to stop and chat. The hustle and bustle of daily life creates such tensions in our lives that to move slowly and pace ourselves is deemed to be behind and to be inefficient in a system that demands efficiency and obedience. It seems to do otherwise is to break away, and that is simply what must be done…
We must reinvent the idea of community. Knowing people and their work, not only the products that they supply. That would be a start. I have personally found a group of people whom which I count as my dear friends. They are the kind of community which I have been seeking for some years now. This is a group that genuinely cares for each other and all that people within the group do. There is a feeling of safety, support and unity within such a group. It is the support network that maintains a connection to each other. It is in this group that I feel most at home; that the people there are like me, that we are on the same page, that we are like minded, that we understand the group dynamics, that we seek to create change and that we seek to foster something positive in all that we do. Those are the feelings I get from my community.
Even though members may not be as intimately associated with each other in the same way or on the same level, there is always room in which to grow and foster renewed relationships. This is what allows for the strengthening of community. Building our social relations into something that is much more than required, building social relations into a support network, into a safe place. Building something much more than forced daily interaction. That is what a community has become for me and those I care about most.
Community is a feeling of safety in support in everything one does. It allows the space for honest criticism and assistance for individuals and ideas to grow within a group. It is fluid. It bonds, expands and entwines organically. It is a space to create change and help others do the same. It is one of the greatest forms of resistance to all the destruction, oppression and hostility that the world possesses. To overcome is to band together, in all forms, as all people, as all ideas, as all that we are…
Community is what we make it. Community is our beauty and our combined resource, free from the shackles of hard definitions and simplifications of conformity. It is something for us, but more so for everyone else. We build, create, improve, adapt and grow our community into what is truly ours. We need no authority to dictate it to us. We will use it to create change and support the ones that matter most to us. We will use it to resist.