Defining community is really simple and can be defined by asking how wide is your we? Who is included in your us?
When I am talking about my work in the community I often speak in first person plural. We are doing such and such – our plan is to do this or that, we have accomplished this that and a third, so on and so on. My “we” and my “us” is fluid. There are thousands upon thousands of people I am referring to when speaking from a place we or us. People that I can consider comrades from California to London, Atlanta to Philadelphia. This mutuality of shared common unity, interests and struggles to improve world whether it be environmentally, socially, spiritually or culturally are the bonds that connect the members of my community together across race and class lines, across geographic boundaries and across religious and ideological lines as well.
As a result of my consciousness, my we grows constantly. There are always people who are waking up to the truth of the work we need to do in the community. As a result, I can’t afford to be constrictive in my definition of community. I stay open to new relationships because there was a time when I wasn’t as aware as I am now. I work towards keeping a healthy level of empathy and compassion when connecting with people – looking for what we have in common first and what makes us different second. The main thing I look at is your spirit – are you a kindred soul on this journey to lift the people higher. If so – you are a part of my community.
Not to go on a tangent but I love AMC’s the Walking Dead. (Random. I know. Just follow me) Not so much for the drama or the blood and guts – but in it you have people under what can be considered the worst circumstances, making community. In reality – this is what community is practically – it is our definitions of “us and we”. In the Walking Dead – we see what happens when the definitions of we and us are small and the resources are finite. We watched from Season 1 to now Season 3 as the group comes to grips with its own definitions of community – and interacts with other communities, for the good or for bad. Would your community be considered the one who shares resources? Is your community dependent on another for its survival? What do you bring to the table? Before we go all kumbaya in Richmond talking about community – think honestly – who would be considered as part of your community during the zombie apocalypse? Would you work to help others? Who would you exclude? Who would you make room for? How does that relate to your actions right now?
Our generation didn’t create the wealth inequities we live with today but we can work to close the gaps, ignore that the problem exists or we can perpetuate the inequity. My definition of community is expansive and includes everyone who is empathetic and compassionate to others and is willing to commit to working to make the world a better place. That work doesn’t have to look like mine. However, it cannot be belittled or dismissed as unimportant either. For me, if a zombie apocalypse hits I want to be with the group that was working toward social equality more than a group that ignored the issues that we face as a generation. I definitely wouldn’t want to be with the ones who perpetuated the inequity. Knowing me; I would be more empathetic and in kindred spirit with those who take the philosophical stance of Robin Hood than anything else. I know in my core that we are all in this together, the good , the bad and the ugly – and that the evolution of the most self centered and selfish of us is integral for my growth as human being but if you are hoarding resources and being greedy when people are starving, trying to survive – aint nobody got time fah dat.
That’s at least until the zombie apocalypse though. Hopefully we won’t have to see the undead rise before our definitions of of community expand.