Community. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” I have a few other words for it….support system, family, a place where isolation is absent (or at least it should be).
In relation to this, Psychologists, theologians, sociologists, scientists have all asked the same one question ….and that is are we a product of our environment? A product of these communities, these support systems, or groups of people in one place…after all ‘it takes a village’ and all that…..
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about community. Who we choose to be in them, if we even get a choose in the matter, how they come about and what comes from them…..but more importantly what could come from them….
What could be created, produced, demonstrated by a group of people banded together?
I originally planned to write to you about the strength and beauty that could be found in community, and whilst this is true something else stirred in me. I was looking up a quote, and one from Mother Theresa appeared on my screen…
“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new life in the hearts of others”
I am not arrogant to call myself an amazing friend or even a particularly good one, I am well acquainted with my flaws, I am affected by impatience, tainted by jealousy and often uprooted by selfish tendencies, and a whole host of negative attributes that I don’t care to list for you but ones I am sure we all suffer at the hands of from time to time. But of one thing I am sure…that the people I love in my life I care for well…. I love nothing more than to show those people that I care about them and display just how thankful I am that they are in my life. Whether this is a letter or parcel in the post, a well timed care package to cheer them up or an out of the blue nice text, planning a surprise party or simple a shoulder to cry on. And I felt challenged today about the idea of community….sure I do these things for the people I love but that is a very small and somewhat scattered group of people. What about my community all around me …am I spreading love or joy.
Then my thoughts went one step further…to think about the whole of society…why is it not the social ‘norm’ to buy a stranger a coffee (and not have them look at you terrified as to what your ulterior motive might be) or to compliment someone you don’t know that well, or to smile at strangers…and no not a meek timid smile, the one that involves crinkling your eyes and flashing those pearly whites. Why are these things, the things that we hear about in blogs…and that we comment on saying “that is so lovely…my faith in humanity is restored” why are these things such surprising comment worthy events. Surely we as members of a society should initiate these things…instead of continuing just to stay quiet and observe and yet be so happy when these flashes of kindness happen to us.
This all became evident to me because of our wonderful #100happydays group, and for those of you who don’t know what I mean check out the previous blogpost! This wonderful group of people has become a little community, meet-ups have been arranged, friendships formed, all on a basis of encouragement and enthusiasm….amongst a group of total strangers (well almost). One of these wonderful group members commented the other day that when asked what the group was she replied “They’re a bunch of Friends that I haven’t met yet!” (And the nicest FB group I’ve been privileged to belong to)”. I loved this comment and I didn’t hesitate to press the like button in fact I wished there had been a love button. This experience has been a wonderful one, our little self-created community sharing our happiness with each other…and encouraging one another when we can’t find it in a particularly hard day.
And this is what communities everywhere should be like, we should stop walking down the street with our eyes on the ground, or our faces scrunched up in stressful thoughts that could be mistakes for a rude glare, we should smile nay grin at those around us, every once in a while we should pay for a strangers coffee, or for the car behind us at the toll bridge, leave a nice comment on a friends status, or send a friend a thank you note just for them being them. We should be active members of communities….wherever these may be and whoever they consist of.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”- Barack Obama
So don’t wait for a stranger to buy you a drink, or for a friend to send you a letter…do it first, be the change you wish you could see in your community around you. Almost a year ago the four of us in our team had a meeting one of our first together and we all bought bracelets . Seemingly an act very remiscient of ten year old girls…who buy bracelets because they’re best friends…but no we bought these because we found these leather bracelets that read “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. And as we were just initiating a charity whose sole aim is to bring about change, we wanted a tangible reminder of this. Because if we really are products of our environment, then I want to be in these kind of communities, the ones that pick me up and dust me off when I’m tired and stressed, the ones that encourage me on days when I need it and even on days when I don’t. Those are the kind of communities I want to become a product of, but if I can’t join a ‘ready-made’ one I’ll make my own….by becoming the change I wish I could see….I challenge you to do the same.
P.S Firstly I’m not entirely sure if it’s in line with the Blog code to use a ‘PS’ but I’ve done it already, and secondly I’m also not sure if dedicating a blog post is a thing that you can do? But I’m going to anyway! This Blog is dedicated to the wonderful, encouraging and amazingly supportive women (and Andrew) of the #100Happydays for Andy’s Beat group. You have honestly astounded us with your generosity, but more than that sheer enthusiasm for our cause and our plans, and we cannot thank you enough we honestly can’t, and we fervently hope that everyday past 100 continues to be happy because you have certainly made us smile a LOT, and your donations will enable us to make a lot of kids smile all around the world.This community has created something immensely positive….we have turned what ‘could’ have come out of a group, to what ‘has’ come out of this group and community and for that I am proud and very happy to be apart of it.