Cultivating Community

Is community a relic of the past, or a necessity of the future? Can the communal models of yesteryear be reintroduced into our culture with today’s social norms and capitalist ideals? It would seem that a "cooperate with your neighbor” moniker on a fridge would be tantamount to a "compete to be successful” one in creating a new renaissance of sustainability; not only in the soils of our gardens, the meeting rooms of our businesses, and the political arenas, but in our spiritual understandings, as well.

It would seem that there is an emerging spiritual movement with a sole (or is it soul?) purpose of bringing cohesion and balance to our pragmatic world, manifesting itself as the building of our communities, large and small. What is community you might ask? Many people are mired in blood family units across the world seeing relations with others outside their social circles as of little significance in their lives, but this mindset only fuels the ‘crowded individual’ mentality which is the antagonist to flourishing communities.

There is so much strife currently occurring in our world that it would seem prudent to recover ourselves if we desire to live in a peaceful manner with others on a global scale. There are many ways in which we can do this, but one of the most important might be to simply dissolve our idea of victimhood. This has led to a worldwide notion (and accepted cultural myth) that there are aggressors, villains, and inherently evil people among us. In the larger sense, this has perpetuated all our desires for safety and security. We can lock ourselves away from the world, watching the grim images on television or newspaper, or we can grow with our peers and see the world being created behind the veil, a world where you feel warmed and fulfilled by the presence of another. A world where you see "God” in the tomato plant you just purchased, or the smell of a rose given to you by a loved one or, simply, in every breath you take. Namaste.

Perhaps with the sprouting of the 21st century and the blossoming of 2009, it is time for us to reclaim community, not only as the removal of fences, but in the cultivation of partnerships on a path to holistic living. It is time for us to know thy neighbors, not only the ones around the dinner table but those in the aisles of our markets and on the paths in our parks. Let us see the glow in a stranger’s eyes, the pain in an elder’s back or even the buoyant energy of a grocery clerk’s smile. Look inside yourself and the sensations therein as this will lead to greater awareness of your yearning for unity, and as you become more grounded in this awareness, you will see this spark in others, as well. Your resentments will turn into compassion. Your misery will turn into peace. Your fear will turn into love. This will be your contribution to the world.

John is a writer, poet and author.