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Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

container ship at night

Community is a not a fine line for me. Rather it is blurry and undefined. At times glaringly out of focus. It seems like it should be solidly in the good camp for it is a wonderfully warm fuzzy kind of word attached to so many warm fuzzy concepts and ideals.

The idea of a cohesive group of people coming together to form a network of support and friendship and fellowship….

Well that’s pretty great.

I love it.

I really do.

But, of course there is the but. Leave it to the red pill swallowing, Matrix leaving me who also sees a darker side to community. And well, you guessed it, it’s the thoughts of this dark side that emerged with this week’s theme.

The more I listen to and observe people, the more I read history and blogs, a question I never knew to ask before has formed and it is big and looming and takes a lot of space in my head. This question, quite honestly is one I don’t hear asked by others and yet for me it is the cause of this fuzziness I experience with the word Community.

It can be scary to ask an iconoclastic question, being what seems to be that lone voice, but I will set aside the touch of scary because the wonder I feel is so much bigger. And the wonder, in its unaddressed state is not going away. Rather it is growing and with this prompt I am ready to put forth my question…

Is community, this need we have for group identity really such a good thing?

For what I see, and hear, and read, and experience, I wonder if identity with a group, this need to belong, to label and define and place ourselves, and others, in groups, does it hinder one’s ability to think for oneself?

For I have witnessed again and again what I can only come to believe is an attachment to a group identity that is so strong, so fierce that loyalty to the group, and to its perceived ideals, often ideals that are not even created by the individual themselves, and then the pursuit of assuring the rightness of these ideals trumps the desire to get along with another individual who is judged to not be in the group.

I have seen this group think play out and impact individual thinking and thus negatively impact interpersonal relationships.

Is this a manifestation of our hard wiring?

A throwback to the day when we broke into groups to increase survival?

In other words, have we not evolved past Eat or be Eaten?

And since the physical threat of being eaten is no longer a real concern for most humans in the 21st century, has our instinct to form groups remained and with the physical threat removed have we created intellectual threats instead?

Will we always be a species that needs In Groups and Out Groups to accommodate a fundamental hard wiring unchanged for tens of thousands of years?

And does, ultimately, minimal individual thinking and magnified group think create an increase in the inability for individuals of different groups, different communities to get along? And does this impairment in individual relationships, the most micro of levels, create an impossibility of greater macro harmony?

Just wondering…

For more (probably positive) takes on Community check out Weekly Photo Challenge here.

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5 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

  1. Pingback: Community – At peace with God* | Words 'n Pics...

  2. Just wondering indeed! What a lot of food for thought. It could be as you say, it could be! But I’d hesitate to throw the baby out with the bathwater – aren’t there enough beneficial aspects of community to make it worth navigating the tricky waters you describe? I was always very wary of groups but I belonged to one wholeheartedly a while back, and it was a great experience. There were many drawbacks, and it didn’t last, but it was a great experience in growth nevertheless. Thank you for being so thoughtful. And what a perfect image to illustrate the idea!

    • Thanks Lynn. Oh by no means do I wish to throw the cute little baby out, I mean, who could do that!?! I was just pointing out the extreme side of community. The side that has been used to justify such things as genocide. Often we don’t speak of the elephant in the room, doing all we can to ignore, dance around and act as if it isn’t there, but it is and lately I see it almost all the time. And one night, just before sleep I was having a quiet discussion with my husband and I realized how that elephant is always there, and how by not acknowledging it things happen, not nice things sometimes. I decided rather than ignore it, pretend away its existence I was going to look right at it and even try to make it my friend. That elephant is a part of all of us, is part of what it is to be human. I have even named my elephant, his name is Benny! :-) Lynn, my good blogging friend, I appreciate you and how you take time to stop by. I have been quiet lately, but I have not gone away, entirely. Thank you and may you have a splendid holiday week! Gratefully, Charlotte

      • One of the things I like so much about you is that you DO think about things…and then you carefully put your thoughts out without assuming a particular response. All’s quiet on the southern front…for a while…you have a peaceful week my friend!

      • Thank you Lynn. And oh the curse of thinking!!! :-) Hope you too are having a pleasant holiday week. My daughter has returned from her week long adventure in Minnesota, visiting with her college roommate and it is nice to have the nest full again! It’s been a good year, a grateful year and I look forward to continuing 2013 right into 2014. I wish the same for you as well. Thank you for being part of it!

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