“Life in community is no less than a neccessity for us – it is an inescapable ‘must’ that determines everything we do and think. Yet it is not our good intentions or efforts that have been decisive in our choosing this way of life. Rather, we have been overwhelmed by a certainty – a certainty that has its origin and power in the Source of everything that exists. We acknowledge God as this Source. . . . We must live in community because all life created by God exists in a communal order and works toward community.” -Eberhard Arnold
Those of us who were born into the American story have been told a lie since the day we were born in verbal and then mostly non-verbal cues from our cultural narrative. We are a ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ kind of people, we highly value the rugged individual. The lone ranger is an American icon. We want to believe that we can do it all on our own. We want to be self-sufficient islands of comfort, security, confidence, freedom and power. But in reality we are not. We are vulnerable, at times insecure, second-guessing and not self-sufficient at all, rather we have a tendency to look for love in all the wrong places. We put on the mask that we have it all together so that other’s can’t see our weakness and vulnerabilities.
Our cities and suburbs are growing in population yet many are feeling more and more alone. We’ve never in our history had more proximity to people and at the same time, we lead the world in anxiety meds and anti-depressants. We have the opportunity to live in community but we choose to build up the walls and live lives of isolation in and near the other humans. Community only works when you opt in. Like an AA meeting, it’s voluntary and you come because you admit you have need. You don’t want to be alone anymore. You’ve tried the rugged individual American story and found yourself wanting.
One of my assumptions about humanity is that we were designed for community because the Source of all Creation designed it that way. He by his nature and image is community: Father, Son & Holy Spirit. We were created in His image and therefore bear the mark of community. We weren’t meant to live alone physically, emotionally or spiritually. We were designed to be known, to be loved by others, to be safe even in our vulnerabilities. We’ve been lied to, we weren’t meant to be individual American heroes, we were meant to find our meaning and purpose within the context of one another.
I’ve given up my life for the building of this kind of community. I feel the brokenness of the world all around me, I long for my neighbors (not just the ones I live next to) to find the satisfaction of their soul’s desire. I long for people to be delivered out of patterns of self-destruction, negativity, isolation, loneliness and mindsets of personal poverty. Community is a powerful healer but it’s also really, really hard and messy and you have to opt in.
Love is the anti-dote to all the lies you are listening to. In Community we speak the truth to one another. I’ve learned I need it like I need air to breathe. You were designed for it, jump in the deep end.