Community is threatening. I was finishing up playing for the small crowd Friday night when the words, “Who’s here to see Cameron?” rung out. An overwhelming majority of the room raised their hand and in that moment I was both humbled and amazed. I do have a pretty good support system around me and I couldn’t be more thankful for that fact. However, this is rare. Community is essential to life, yet oftentimes we resist it. We resist because it’s not safe and it threatens the very identities onto which we desperately cling.
Community is about vulnerability. In community, we must first strip ourselves of our Superman alter egos. We have to come to terms with our mortality and imperfection and this doesn’t bode well especially in today’s society. We admit our faults and look for help. The bottom line is we have to admit we cannot succeed alone. This very fact cuts us to the core. It is more than uncomfortable.
Community is about others first. While we may love those around us, the fact of the matter is our friends, family and neighbors come second in life behind us. Besides, what can we give them if we don’t have it together ourselves? We’ve bought into this half-truth and it’s poisoning our society. The fact is, no one will ever have it together. Therefore, we can’t wait to be fully put together ourselves before we begin to live an outward focused life. No, we must live life this way from the get-go so that we can live life together as was always the design.
Community is about living life together. The spectrum of life’s experiences, from bliss down to lamentation, was meant to be lived together with others. We were meant to bring joy into the lives of others in the good times and receive support in the bad. However, this means disclosing all things to our trusted support. It means ditching preconceived notions of vileness and shame. It takes a trust that the people around us are just as base and looking also to be made whole once more. It takes laying aside our need to be better.
Community is give and take. It cannot be one or the other. Community must be both. Without the give, how can we continue to take in good conscience? On the flip side, if we continue to give, from where do we receive? In other words, we cannot be hoarders of care and encouragement, but we also are not bottomless wells. Community is, like breathing, a two step process. Without one, the other cannot occur and the entire system breaks down.
Community goes against some of the very core elements of our society today. It subjugates the individual to the servitude of others. Community casts aside delusions of a man being an island. It breaks down success and accomplishment. It leaves us feeling weak, but loved. We feel imperfect, but secure. Community changes our very worldview, slowing us down so that we can finally breathe and contemplate together. Next week, we’ll look at the take in community, but today, ask yourself what you struggle with most in the idea of community. For me, it’s a fear of being seen as ugly inside. Why for you is community threatening?