When I hear the word “community” I respond to it like I do when I hear the word love. It feels good to hear, it feels good to say, and it definitely feel goods to experience.
I think both are an ideal.
But is community also like love in that in its highest form, it’s rare?
The more I thought about community, and how often the word is used, I wondered about its meaning. So I did what I do when I want to know what something is… I looked at its definition.
The following information comes from Wikipedia…
In the first paragraph I read…
A community is a group or society, helping each other.
Nice, but I wanted more.
Then I read…
If community exists, both freedom and security may exist as well. The community then takes on a life of its own, as people become free enough to share and secure enough to get along.
I was particularly intrigued by the four stages of community as described by M. Scott Peck.
Pseudocommunity: In the first stage, well-intentioned people try to demonstrate their ability to be friendly and sociable, but they do not really delve beneath the surface of each other’s ideas or emotions. They use obvious generalities and mutually-established stereotypes in speech. Instead of conflict resolution, pseudocommunity involves conflict avoidance, which maintains the appearance or facade of true community. It also serves only to maintain positive emotions, instead of creating safe space for honesty and love through bad emotions as well. While they still remain in this phase, members will never really obtain evolution or change, as individuals or as a bunch.
Chaos: The first step towards real positivity is, paradoxically, a period of negativity. Members start to vent their mutual frustrations, annoyances, and differences. It is a chaotic stage but Peck describes it as a “beautiful chaos” because it is a sign of healthy growth.
Emptiness: This stage does not mean people should be “empty” of thoughts, desires, ideas or opinions. Rather, it refers to emptiness of all mental and emotional distortions which reduce one’s ability to really share, listen to, and build on those thoughts, ideas, etc. It is often the hardest step in the four-level process, as it necessitates the release of patterns which people develop over time in a subconscious attempt to maintain self-worth and positive emotion. It should be viewed not merely as a “death” but as a rebirth — of one’s true self at the individual level, and at the social level of the genuine and true Community.
True community: The process of deep respect and true listening for the needs of the other people in this community. This stage Peck believes can only be described as “glory” and reflects a deep yearning in every human soul for compassionate understanding from one’s fellows.
Seldom “out in the world” have I experienced stages 3 or 4. Most of my relationships are spent in stage 1 and then, when stage 2 is experienced, the interaction ends.
How I wish I could make it through the struggles of Chaos because I want to master Emptiness. I seek to shed the emotional distortions which I know I have, to learn to share, to learn to listen to another, to know True Community. But the opportunity to do so seems so rare.
Or is it me?
Have I gone about trying to connect with people the wrong way?
I seek meaningful discourse, yet I end up feeling like the Andy Warhol quote, not knowing where the artificial stops and the real begins. Do you feel it too?
Or is it not me?
Is it that my initial premise is closer to correct – that real connection, real community, real love, really is rare?
Are most of the day-to-day relationships we enter really just consumables? Like electronics. Made to be thrown away rather than repaired?
Am I seeking an ideal?
Is community, true community, truly an ideal?
Andy Warhol’s Eggs. Color to a canvas, like chaos to a community, creates a whole new dimension to what’s already there.