Saturday, August 1, 2015

Thinking About Community (1)

I like the idea of building community, but in the sense of building community with neighbors, friends, co-workers, fellow worshipers, not in the more political sense that the phrase is used. I am not opposed to that at all, but it is not my forte and it doesn't interest me in the way that building community with others does.

Given that I am walking more now in an effort to build back strength before I get back into rowing again, it has been interesting to observe people. Clearly some people want to be left alone and will deliberately cross the street or pathway in an effort to avoid someone coming towards them. In one place I walk, I've noticed that almost always, only about fifty percent of people will acknowledge the presence of another person on the path. In neighborhoods, it is generally higher.

I've been wondering if our use of the internet has influenced how we interact in person. I know there are many internet communities -- but it isn't the same as interacting in person. It also is better I think than not interacting at all. But we need balance. I used to work on a college campus and the last few years I worked there it was interesting to watch how students would text and talk on their cellphones while walking to class, but would essentially ignore anyone meeting them on the walkways. In fact, the campus started a campaign to encourage everyone to greet one another.

I think we have to be careful not to lose our abilities to interact well and be able to read and interpret the gestures and facial expressions of other human beings. Building community requires being able to congregate and enjoy one another in person, and to be able to effectively communicate face to face (and not just on Facetime). When the chips are down....a terrible storm, a sudden illness or when things are great......or anywhere in the middle - we do need one another. We function much better in community, at least most of the time. I wonder if maybe we need to pay more attention to how we do this.

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