THE HUMAN YEARNING FOR COMMUNITY
© 2004 Corinne McLaughlin
There is something in the human condition that eternally yearns for a greater sense of connectedness, yearns to reach out and deeply touch others, throwing off the pain and loneliness of separation to experience unity with others. In all times and all places people have consciously reached out to feel their connectedness with a larger whole. This is the experience of community.
The word "community" contains the word "unity" and, on the deepest level, community is the experience of unity or oneness with people and with all of life. We can be in community with our family, our friends, our clubs, our co-workers, our neighbors, and with our fellow humans--as long as we are feeling a sense of connectedness and unity with them.
Community means different things to different people. To some, it is a safe haven where survival is assured through mutual cooperation. To others, it is a place of emotional support, with deep sharing and bonding with close friends. Some see community as an intense crucible for personal growth. For others it is primarily a place to pioneer their dreams.
Community can be a context for actualizing the potential of an individual, and for experiencing a sense of oneness--a sense of brother/sisterhood, beyond separation, where we recognize ourselves in the "other." At times, this experience of unity bursts upon us spontaneously, revealing the wonder and mystery of life. And yet we also can create a sense of unity consciously, building it patiently, step by step, as we get to know each other, revealing more of our deeper selves, trading vulnerabilities, developing trust, keeping our hearts open as we work out conflicts and differences. As this process extends beyond the human world, we develop a sense of community with all other life forms who share the earth with us—with all of nature.
Throughout most of human history, community was the normal pattern. Our roots are tribal. Our lives used to be deeply connected to each other and to nature, and there was both intimacy and security in this. For centuries, people lived in large extended families or tribal networks. Small villages functioned like communities in the truest sense. Even today, much of the world still lives in these kind of villages.