What does community mean to you? It is a tough question when you really try to pinpoint a definition. If you hammer down to the crux of what the word really means to someone, and further to that what their motivation behind a sense of “community” is, the waters grow far murkier. Community is a buzz-word that has been batted around for a while now in many of the circles I travel, but I continually struggle with the true gist of what is being said.
So many of us get wrapped up in self serving opportunities or grandstanding for a response while we know people are looking. In many of those instances we often lose the sense of true community, the kind of true community involvement that happens when no one is looking or the glow of the spotlight is not shining in your direction. This alone to me is the real sense of what a mind for community means.
This is the kind of community that happens as a youth hockey coach spends his twelfth Saturday in a row rising at 4:30 am to drive kids to tournaments, the kind of community that sees a volunteer paint the church kitchen for nothing more than a cup of coffee, the kind of community that sees a person openly volunteer their time so those without a mother or father can feel what it is like to experience “family”, or the kind of person who spends countless hours behind the wheel or near a bedside as a cancer patients seek the treatment they need to beat that damned disease. All of these are in my opinion true champions of “community”. We can experience this in our families, our working lives, our social circles or the groups and organizations many of us belong to…It is tireless work but noble in its basic structure.
It troubles me though as so much of what bogs down the true sense of the word is self gratification through displaying a sense of “community”. The kind that happens when the cameras are rolling or the lights are on. Politics to a certain degree is full of this and has always been one of the greatest struggles I have felt in my political life, how to make it genuine. There is so much cynicism in the world that it takes time and passion to have a genuine experience, something that isn’t artificial or feels staged.
When you do have it happen, when you can live in that moment and experience what it feels like to care deeply about the well being of others, and experience the true sense of community it is something special.
I have a long way to go, I’m not there yet but I’m working on it and I hope others are too. If we truly look beyond ourselves and focus on the bigger picture it would be amazing to see what we could accomplish. At the end of the day whether the lights shine on you for it or not something special has happened, and you would be surprised at the number of those around you who will want to be a part of it.
Like I said I have a long way to go, it is a process that I’m working through to better myself, to live in the moment more, spend more time with my family, care more about my community and spend less time caring about what others think and do around me, because at the end of the day that will be all that really mattered.
As I said it is a process…..
Here is a look at something I found interesting in the news this past week that puts into perspective some of what matters most to people. Check out the Before I Die movement and the blog of its founder Candy Chang.