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