Reflections: By someone trying to define community…and is frustrated.
Community. Well, that’s a word that has been spinning around in my head the past couple of days. When I got the topic for this blog post, I admit I was stumped. I have written about community for school and other special projects, but in a broad and maybe even an ignorant sense. The word community is so prominent in everyday life that its meaning doesn’t even register or cross my mind anymore. As well, in my normal day-to-day life I am rarely asked to think and write about a specific word; I think others can relate to this, as well.
After receiving this topic for the blog though, this word was the only word in my vision. Everywhere I turned, every book and textbook I read for class, every conversation I had, and every online post brought the word community to my attention. It was like it was taunting me, saying, “you became blind to my presence so now I’m going to plague you with my existence”.
Once the word came up a few times, I started recording the contexts and sentences I found the word in. I compiled them and have listed just a few of them here:
“Those who aren’t in community are outsiders”
“Community services and supports help people recover from hardship and regain control of their lives”
“Buddhist Triple Gems of Refuge: Sangha means community. Therefore ‘I go to the community for refuge’”
“One of our goals for the next three years is to reach out to the community”
“Israel as a ‘Community under God’”
“’Coffee with a Cop’ brings law enforcement and community together”
As you can see, I had a very community-filled week. Reflecting on these past couple days, I am glad for the frustration and plaguing of the word. All of this reaffirmed to me that we live in a “community” where we have no idea what the actual word “community” means. But yet, we still keep using it. We use it in so many ways that it seems to have taken on multiple meaning and definitions. Why do we use it? Maybe by using it, it makes us seem intelligent, or knowledgeable, or gives us a façade that makes us out to be more inclusive of everyone. Or maybe we use the word so much to hide the fact that we really have no idea how we are supposed to be exercising, applying or maneuvering it.
I hope that my reflections cause you to hear and see the word ‘community’ in all aspects of your life, just like it did in mine this past week. Not to cause you frustration, but to help you also reflect and wrestle with what its meaning might be. If enough of us sit with the word for a while, maybe we will start to discover and re- envision what the heart and meaning of community is.
Written by Kaitlin VanDeursen