My spouse went to check on a rustic metal bench we were having made by local Mennonites, when he arrived, they were on coffee break. They invited him to sit in with them while they took a moment. This was profound to both of us. When they were done, it was at that point, he was then led to the shop and shown the progress on the project.
This topic had come up spontaneously on “Monday Group” (a community group) for me as well – two of us were ruminating of our experiences of European culture where they will shut down their shop for a coffee with a friend, and how humanity and community come before commerce. The reflection of quality of both relationships and livelihood over quantity and mammon was startling.
Contrastly in North Americans as a whole we had observed heads low, shoulders up, posture curled, appeared shackled and constricted. Eyes down, anxiety high, patience low, quantity over quality and commerce supersedes connection the majority of the time, whether human or environmental.
When a culture, whether a nation, or gathering of people be it a small group or gathering become “community first people” and have a spirit of collaboration & contribution, they become alive; their heads are held high, posture straight, lots of life in their presence and eyes. They invite people to their homes, or out for social gatherings.
It gets talked about a lot but hardly becomes more than a catch phrase. Just like when your workplace says “you’re family” well, if my family treated me the way most workplaces treat their employees, then I certainly wouldn’t be calling them MY family, and is an enormous departure from a quintessential view of family.
After working in HR I can tell you in the corporations where I worked… it was baloney, hands down.
Community is about action over verbiage, it’s a culture, a way of life and interaction, it does sometimes require deliberate thought and consideration prior to speaking, and values listening, over talking and acceptance of the individual over judgement. It acknowledges the person as a valued being; it allows them to express their experience politely without reproach. It’s ok to see things differently, it doesn’t break the group, or dissuade unity, oddly seemingly paradoxically it increases it.
Community also contributes to a common goal – whether helping other communities or being a support each other or both, and more. Connection is valuable in reducing depression, and is interestingly even one of the biggest proponents of suicide prevention.
I hope everyone considers exploring a “Monday Group” of their own, spiritual and practical – meaning physical (not to say spiritual is not practical). Whether it be a maker’s space of building physical things out of wood metal or sewing or bird watching, hiking, in our village – communal dog walks as many as 30 people. Stephan and I have found a robotics group and have found the land of our people! It’s exhilarating to find people as quirky and accepting as yourself, and come home feeling refreshed and uplifted.
Consider giving it a whirl, and if one doesn’t float your boat, try another, like a box of chocolates, till you find the one that makes you smile.