We’re three days into September and ready to get started with the final countdown of our seeing 20:20 by 2020 challenge by talking: COMMUNITY.
This post was supposed to happen on the 1st… but on the 31st, a community very close to where I grew up was impacted by a mass shooting. The resulting Facebook posts and comments over the next 24 hours left me so discouraged that it took me a while to be able to wrap my head around my feelings.
“Community” is a word I hear at least a dozen times a day. It’s almost to the point where it feels like some kind of buzzword. A word so overused it has almost lost its significance or definition.
So, here you go - according to dictionary.com:
a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Now more than ever, I truly believe that our society, our sense of community, is shattered. I’ve worked in food service, retail, higher education, and the nonprofit sector. I’ve seen our education, foster care, healthcare, political and legal systems fail my friends, family, and neighbors more times than I can count. And each and every time I’ve asked myself “why” and then tried to figure out a way to help. Occasionally I’ll get lucky and can find the right resource or system to help, but more often than not, I come to a dead end. I find a law/rule/system/belief that gets in the way of just doing the right thing: helping our community members.
All of my life I’ve been told we don’t talk about three things: money, politics, or religion. As an adult, I’ve come to realize that because we haven’t talked about it for so, so long, people don’t know how to talk about it. We’re so quick to label everything and put things in neat little categories because it’s easier for our brains to comprehend. We have labels within labels, groups within groups, cultures within cultures. These labels designed to help us understand end up backfiring and leaving us more confused than ever. They leave us forgetting the bigger picture and the understanding that we are ALL part of a community. Whether we live in the same place or not, I’d argue we all basically want the same things. Safety, love, food, water, shelter, access to healthcare, a strong workforce and economy… Thus, we all share common attitudes, interests, and goals whether we realize it or not.
Things get shattered when we lose site of this fact.
So, yes… I believe our society is broken. That we’re lost. That we’re so stuck behind labels we’ve lost sight of our sense of community.
But… I also believe with everything I am that it CAN be fixed. If we want to do the work to fix it.
And it all starts with our community. With the group of people living in our neighborhood, school district, and cities. If we take care of those closest to us, it will make where we live, and who we are, the best it can be. We have to take a long, critical look at where we are and see who are struggling or fading right next to us. See who we can give a hand-up to. Who we can create a fellowship with and intentionally make the world a little bit better.
Our challenge to you is to stop waiting for ‘someone’ to address the problems in your community and to take baby steps every single day this month to BE that someone. Whatever you’re doing now, take it a step further!
If you’re only sharing things on Facebook, start researching and reading up on the things you share.
If you’re educating yourself, vote.
If you’re voting, help others get registered to vote.
Once you vote, donate. If you’re only praying, get involved. Volunteer, pick up 20 pieces of trash in your neighborhood, spend 20 minutes a day researching the problems in your community, drive through the side of town you usually avoid... anything and everything you can do NOW to help set yourself, and your community, up for one hell of a 2020.
Enough of the bullshit - more true community.