VALUE OF COMMUNITY…
I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of community, and the relevance of community to men specifically…and even more specifically, to men who want to be better men.
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OK, back to our discussion about communities. There are all kinds of animals on our planet. There are herding animals like cows and sheep, there are animals that stick to family pods like whales, there are animals who survive in pairs, and there are solitary animals, like polar bears.
I believe human beings are community animals. I think we are designed to thrive best in a community setting. Some people would say we are tribal animals…I don’t disagree with that, but I think of a tribe as a larger thing, as a collection of like-minded communities.
For the purposes of this discussion I am defining “community” as any group of people that you commune with and feel a part of.
In the old days a community was also reliant on geography. You could not commune with people you were not in proximity to. Nowadays, it’s possible to be a member of a global community as well.
It’s all semantics though. Regardless of how we define community or tribe, the fact remains that human beings tend to be at their best when operating as a member of a larger group. I think the reason we evolved this way is because it ensured our survival and reproduction.
A lone man in the wilderness didn’t have much of a chance against predators, the elements, or other people who would try to take his resources. A lone man, eventually, was a dead man.
Nowadays, the need for community is not as evident. In these easy times we live in a lone man can live, or at least exist, without the resources of a community. It is possible for a man to live in a city, have a job and a house, and go shopping for food while at the same time being totally isolated from others, having very little interaction and live a solitary lifestyle.
In my opinion a man like this is living a shallow life. He is only existing, he is not thriving, and he is giving up some of the best of what it means to be a man in the first place. For whatever reason, he is living in a way that is contrary, and not complimentary to his human nature. I’ll explain what I mean.
One of the things a community provides to a man, is opportunity. Opportunity to be the best man that he can.
What good is it to be a great guy, if you have no one around you to be great for?
What good is it to have knowledge, if you have no one to share it with, that knowledge will die with you.
How can a man learn to be a leader if there is no one around to lead?
What is the point of humor if there is no one to laugh? What is the point of having strength if there is no one to share it with, to help, to protect?
I contend that by himself, a man can achieve only a certain hight of existence. By yourself you run into a ceiling of improvement, and you can improve no further beyond that point. The presence of a community of other people however, is like a ladder extended into your life that allows you to climb higher as a person, than you could have otherwise.
It allows you to expand beyond yourself, it increases your potential. It actually increase the number of opportunities you have to be a better man.
I’m talking about this today because I want to encourage people to make the most of their communities. Think about the communities you may already be a part of, and ask yourself if you are taking advantage of all the opportunities there. How are you adding value to the group? What benefits are you receiving? Are you helping, teaching, and contributing as much as you can, or could you do more?
Ask yourself how you can use this community to improve as a person and as a man. How can this community help you learn and grow and become better? If there isn’t an answer to that question…you may be in the wrong community. Go find a different one. After all, not all communities are good, they can be destructive as well and it’s important to discern the difference.
If you are not currently a member of a community then you should either find one, or create one. Communities can be created around a wide number of things. Any hobby or interest. Political or religious affiliations…any civic causes or charities, beliefs or opinions are enough to bring people together and form a community. A community can also be a group of friends who like each other.
There are many resources for finding communities these days. meetup.com is one of them, all sorts of communities are there waiting for new members to join them. You can find one there, or start one of your own.
If you are listening to this then you are part of this community; a group of men who want to be better than they were yesterday. Even though you don’t know each other and may not interact directly, this is still a type of community. Members of this community are here because they get something out of it, and they contribute by sending me their ideas and questions or by direct donation. And you can interact with others and myself on the Facebook page as well.
As you head out into this weekend give some thought to the communities you are a part of. Consider what you can do better, how you can contribute your talents, time and resources for the good of the whole. Look for opportunities within your community to be a better man today than you were yesterday…focus on that, and that is what you will become.
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