Thoughts along the path . . .
Thinking about Community
I usually do my best thinking when I’m physically active, so perhaps it’s no surprise that today’s run around the track at our Community Complex got me thinking about the word “community.” Indeed it is a complex word, even if that weren’t part of the name of the building.
The dictionary tells us that a community is defined by people (1) living in the same place OR (2) feeling fellowship based on sharing attitudes, interests, or goals. The first part of the definition easily qualifies me as a member of the Ayr/North Dumfries community. By the second part of that definition, I qualify as a member of the Baha’i community, tap dance community, adult learner community, film history geek community, vegetarian community, lover of short stories community, active seniors community, and . . . well, you get the idea.
Sometimes I receive an email from an organization that wants to claim me as a member of their community. If I drive their kind of car, subscribe to their magazine, sign their petition, or buy their brand of whatever-it-is-they-are-selling — those sorts of behaviours qualify me as a member of their self-proclaimed community, too.
Frankly I’m feeling overwhelmed by so many people, so many causes, so many labels being put on me. Besides, when I think about it I realize that the only community I want to belong to is the community of humans. I want us all to move beyond constraints of physical address or cultural sameness and instead realize that we are bound together not by our distinctions but by our fundamental sameness. Our diverse interests and characteristics are meant to enrich us, not to compartmentalize us.
As English-speakers, we even have the good fortune to have the word “unity” within the word “community.” Surely this is a reminder that we are one human family, regardless of where we live, what we eat, what we dance to, what we read, what we drive, or what we wear. As Baha’u’llah said, “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” I wonder what our world would look like if we all lived with that idea in mind. Difficult as our current world may be, we are gradually heading in that direction. At least I hope that’s the case for the sake of our planet and its diverse inhabitants.
Submitted to Ayr News by Jaellayna Palmer November 2017
© Jaellayna Palmer 2017