One of the fundamental truths of life is that humans are inclined to community. We are programmed to connect with each other. We need it as an essential for survival. You can get so much out of relationship: a sense of belonging, purpose, personal growth, etc. If you look at human history over the course of time, community has always been core to culture. Community can come in all different shapes and sizes too. Family is community, work is community. Social clubs, churches, and internet groups are all examples of community.
People will go out of their way consciously, or subconsciously to find community. Some of your habits may be unconscious behaviors directed by a desire for community. Being part of something is a strong feeling. People can sometimes resort to drastic measures to feel part of something. This can look like cults or conspiracy theory groups for example. Wanting to be part of something can also be weaponized against a person. People may manipulate others to do what they want otherwise that person “won’t be part” of that group or community anymore.
People will also make communities around just about anything. Watching a certain television series can be a community. A political or ideological bend can be a community. Getting drunk with friends on a regular basis is a community. Talking about being sober with friends can be a community. Community is pervasive and there is nothing any of us can do about it. Whether “legal” or not, people will commune.
People will capitulate their values for community. People will allow themselves to be abused for community. They will create arbitrary obstacles for community. They will outright make stuff up all in the name of being part of a collective of like-minded individuals. People want to feel accepted. Some people fear isolation. Community is a strong incentive for people to do a lot of things. Sometimes these relationships can be unhealthy. I tend to talk about that part a lot.
Unhealthy human interaction is something that I am quite familiar with. That being said, there are good things that come from people being together. Individualism is something that is a bit of a phenomenon in society. People being unconcerned with the condition of their neighbor is abnormal and against the trend of human history. This is happening in part because of western political and financial systems.
Our politics drive tribalism which leads to division. A free-market system encourages greed which discourages concern for your fellow man (human) beyond how much money can be taken from them. All the while, politicians still need a community/collective vote. Money needs a community of people to use it otherwise it does not exist intrinsically. And businesses need a community of buyers otherwise they are not profitable. Individualism gets birthed in this type of environment because no one is considerate of the other person. People end up being focused on their politics, their stuff, where they like to shop, etc. It encourages the worst parts of human behavior.
In this type of environment the community is not a group of people coming together with and for one another. It’s a group of people coalescing around an idea or product. Another set of terms for this is religion and idolatry. People are trading in community for rigid beliefs and false gods. They would rather close themselves off and worship idols than get to know one another.
How do you find your community when there is no community to be found? You have to lead the way. You must create community. Community is not as complicated as it sounds, its fellowship around same or similar interests. Instead of connecting with people over stuff, connect with people over being people: shared experiences, empathy, morals, differences of opinion, different ways of seeing the world etc. You can be a person and be in community without being reduced to only being a consumer or a number. Life is a journey, connect over that.
Stop making the only thing that you have in common with a person the store you shop at, the television show you watch, or the products you use. That’s not to say that there is anything abhorrently wrong with that on the surface level, but if you want to find your real community, connect with being human.
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