The Paradox and Promise of Community

There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace—and ultimately, no life—without community. ~M. Scott Peck

Participation in meaningful community is the greatest unacknowledged hunger of our time. ~Family Therapy Networker

We are individual designs in the fabric of life: We have our own integrity, but simultaneously we are part of the fabric, connected to and defined by the whole. Community is the human dimension of that fabric. ~Tom Atlee

The title of this post is the title of the first chapter in The Community of the Future from The Drucker Foundation. In this chapter, Margaret J. Wheatley (one of my favorites!) and Myron Kellner-Rogers explore the difficulties and the benefits of community. They lament that, “Particularly in the West…we move toward isolation in order to defend our individual freedom.” By doing so, we end up lonely and impoverished. They contend that we must live in the paradox of community: the conformity required to live together and the need for our own independence.

The authors describe communities that do not require members to forfeit their freedom. People in groups must know why they are in community, and their conditions of belonging can be kept to the minimum. One junior high school has only three rules: “Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Take care of this place.”

“Our great creativity and diversity, our desire for contribution and relationships, blossom when the heart of the community is clear and beckoning, and when we refrain from cluttering our paths with proscriptions and demands.”

Have you experienced the joy of community in which people know why they’re together, have a “cohering center of shared significance,” yet keep the demands for conformity and sacrifice of one’s individuality as minimal as possible?

2 Responses to The Paradox and Promise of Community

  1. […] In this new world of electronic social networking, I believe we are hungry for face-to-face community, with its promise and paradox. (See more on that tension in this earlier post). […]

  2. Usha Kiran says:

    Transmedia should be the way 🙂

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