I dream'd in a dream I saw a city invincible to the attacks of
the whole of the rest of the earth,
I dream'd that was the new city of Friends,
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love,
it led the rest,
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
And in all their looks and words.

Walt Whitman

"In and through community lies the salvation of the world."

M. Scott Peck, MD

"We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body."

John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630

Communities are groups of people who connect with each other. Typically they share some common goals, some common traditions, some ways of communicating. We used to think of communities only as small groups of people who lived close together. Today the concept has expanded. We talk of the global community and the on-line community, which are completely non-local. This suggests that we are no longer restricted to communion with a few neighbors, but that we can form communities of any size and breadth.

At the same time, our connections to small close-by communities give us strength through personal contact. If we lose complete touch with our local and personal roots we will have lost an important anchor.

One of the characteristics of communities is that they create synergy. The capabilities of the group are greater than the capabilities of the individuals that make up the group acting separately. How can this be? What is it about collections of people working together that is so powerful. Is it the power of love? We might not call it that, but what else ties people together? What else motivates the give and take, the service, the sharing, the problem solving that happens in a community? When a community loses its love, or friendship, or respect for its members it loses its vitality. When it moves beyond its rigidly held ideas, its paralyzing fears, and draws together in a pulsing collective consciousness, then there is life, there is synergy, there is soul.

Ask yourself:

To what communities do I belong?

Who else is included? Who is excluded?

How important is community to me?

What are my roles in my community?

Am I engaged in the flow of community energy, or am I detached, alienated, or apathetic?

If I want to be a vital part of a living community, what must I do inside myself to more fully share my gifts?

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© 1999-2004 Tom Barrett