Are we truly social creatures? Did community ever truly exist? Or are we simply driven by self-interest and that’s the only reason we engage with one another?
I may be an idealist, but I’m definitely a realist and I know the difference between fact and fiction (though ever since I was a kid I found myself day-dreaming more often than not, especially in school. And that’s something I still do that to this very day). The following truth that I am about to reveal is my truth: that there is no such thing as Community in today’s society. At least, not the true definition of community. I know a lot of people like to throw that word around, along with that horrible term “fam” (short for “family”) just as much as they like saying they have OCD, which they don’t.
So, put on your truth-seeking caps my friends, as once again we dispel another myth, something that possibly once held true thousands of years ago when we were living in smaller, tribal communities taking care of one another as we lived more free, self-governing lives.
What is the true definition of Community?
From my perspective, community is: “you wash my back, I was yours”. It’s where people reciprocate. Where they truly care and act more altruistic than they do today. It’s being less selfish and more selfless. It’s a place where people, more often than not, put aside their self-interests to look out for one another. They know one another on a first-name basis. They offer their medical services to those in need, and if those in need are poor, they do not expect payment in return. They check-in on their elderly neighbors to see if there is anything they might need help with or to be purchased from the market. They get together often for no reason than to simply commune and share in each others’ company, not just because there is a particular event that appeals to their individual self-interests. If someone’s house is in disrepair, they help repair it.
Community is a world without government.
One aspect of government that we may not consider is the fact that it is an institution for the lazy. Think about it: the only responsibility one has to their fellow human and making the world a better place is voting on policies which we have no say in their creation, and which are executed by a few elite control freaks who think they know what’s best for everyone. Policies and their executors, which, based on past results, most likely will not fix the world’s problems. Cast a vote, cleanse your conscience, then go about your life not having to physically help anyone else, ever, hoping one day it will all be better and all the problems will be fixed by The Government (cue dramatic music: Da-da-daaaaaaa!!!!)!
The U.S. Government was instituted around 1776. Here we are 242 years later with an obscene amount of resources (time, wealth, knowledge, equipment, skilled labor) and we still have slums in the U.S dating back to the early 1900’s. That’s because we are, and should be, responsible for our fellow human beings. Each of us, to a person (those of us who are able bodied and do not have any serious mental or physical health issues). It’s not the sole responsibility of The Evil Government (Da-da-, okay, you get it).
Community is a world without prisons.
Well, obviously, if we get rid of government there would be no prisons. And again, throwing people away in prison is just another way of letting someone else deal with the problem. No, this isn’t sympathy for the devil (I will write an article one-day about my thoughts on prison). Prison is a band-aid. It’s a cloth bandage on a leaky pipe. People are not born criminals. They are born free organisms to live however they so please. No, I don’t have a solution. I don’t know how tribal communities handled people that robbed, murdered, etc. But ideally, whatever is going on in the person’s head that drives them to commit a crime is what needs to be addressed. The bomb needs to be defused before it goes off. Are we not responsible for our fellow human beings? Are we not a community? If so, then it’s up to each one of us to a person to help our neighbors before they turn into criminals. Instead, we turn a blind eye, we say “not my problem”, “you broke the rules”, and we expect someone else to clean up the mess.
Community is a world without nursing homes.
Seriously? (seriously, did I just say “seriously” in a serious article?) We put our elderly up to live alone in nursing homes instead of taking care of them like a rational, sane, compassionate, empathetic tribal community would?
I understand that the world is so upside down today that we have to work until we’re dead. And because of that, many of us simply lack the time, not to mention lack the knowledge and ability, to care for our elderly, especially the elderly that have severe mental and/or physical disabilities. But while having to hold a job and not having time to care for the elderly may be somewhat true, it’s also a bit of an excuse. We can change that. We can move back to a simpler life in order to move forward and shift the scales of the work/life balance in favor of life over work. When I say simple, I don’t mean abandon civilization altogether. I don’t have a grand solution. But there surely must be a better solution than this.
But it’s not just a matter of people having to work too much. Plenty of people put their elderly into nursing homes because they just don’t want to deal with them. Plenty of people just, don’t, care. Plenty of people grow old without a family and have nowhere to go. I don’t even know if those individuals would even end up in a nursing home in that case. But the point here is, in more cases than not, we let our elderly become someone else’s problem so that we can continue to enjoy our lives unimpeded by the needs of those who would only drag us down.
Community is a world without charities.
Just like the points above, the ridiculous amount of charities in today’s world is yet another symptom of a lazy society that does not want to put the hard work and effort into helping their fellow human beings.
Once again, it’s just like voting. Instead of votes, we send money to people we don’t know hoping they will do the actual work to resolve the issue. Unless you donate once and think that’s your contribution to the world for the rest of your existence. And I don’t want to hear the excuse that we wouldn’t be able to fight cancer or all these other issues without charities. Yes, we can. Money is not needed. That’s just greed. One does not have to accept payment or charge money for their services. I can grow tomatoes and raise cattle in my yard then give it away for free. It’s a choice between compassion and greed. Also, isn’t it glaringly obvious how pathetic the whole charity situation is when you have websites dedicated to determining whether or not a charity is legitimate or fraudulent?
Fraudulent charities. It’s like priests and nuns that take advantage of children.
Community is a world without foster care and orphanages.
Are you starting to see the trend here? We vote so that someone else takes care of the world’s problems. We put our elderly into a nursing home so that someone else takes care of them. We donate to charity so that someone else can fix the problem. We put people in prison so that someone else takes care of them. We put our children into foster care or an orphanage so that someone else can take care of them. If we were a true community, then when someone in our community is unable to care for their child or children, they would be raised by the community, or the tribe, because the community is, after all, one big family. But instead, because we are splintered and living our own separate lives in today’s society, because there is no true community, we discard our children. Hell, we even discard our adults onto the streets. When you think about it, the fact that we have foster care and orphanages in the first place proves my point about the lack of community. Now, I think it’s good, to an extent, that we have these systems in place in today’s backwards society, whether it’s a nursing home or an orphanage. It’s a good thing that a child can be adopted into a, hopefully, caring family. But that doesn’t mean this is how things should be for all of time, and that this should be the status quo. Nursing homes and orphanages are a symptom of the lack of community in today’s society. People also need to think about the huge, lifelong responsibility that comes along with having a child or children before indulging in the pleasures of the flesh. Lastly, I know there are a whole slew of reasons as to why every single child is in foster care or an orphanage, but I’m not here to write an article about that. This is a complex issue, yet my point still remains true.
Community is being there for the people in the community.
Tell me something: when someone in your community has a tree fall on their house and they can’t afford the repairs, or they lose their job and fall behind in their bills, or they need a kidney transplant, or any plethora of other issues that truly requires the help of others in the so-called “community”, where are you and I when we are needed? Or, vice versa: where are they if it’s you or I in need of help? Surprise! None of us are there for each other! Barring family, hospital staff and first responders. We’re talking stranger to stranger here. You could be laying in a ditch on the side of the road and people won’t even stop to help, unless of course they need your donation for their charity, or if you have money to pay them to help you. Once a upon time, who knows how many thousands of years ago when we lived in true tribal communities, when something happened to someone in the community, the members would be there to help. No questions asked. But not today. Especially with the advent of the internet where people have become more narcissistic and completely enamored with themselves and love to portray themselves as being “upstanding members of their community”, while their contradictory behaviors and actions prove otherwise. Sure, first responders such as firefighters do their part for the community. But not everything is an emergency that requires the police, ambulance or firefighter. We’re supposed to be in this together. Aren’t we? Everyone sure acts like it on Social Media.
Community is getting together, not just out of self-interest
Getting together once in a blue moon because it serves our self-interests at that time is not community. If we get together to rebuild the poor parts of our towns and actually revitalized them, cleaned up the litter ourselves, or went around every single day checking-in on our elderly neighbors, and then held our fund-raising event to recoup the costs (actually, it would be better if we rebuilt the slums out of the kindness and generosity of our hearts rather than looking for a Thank You or payment in return), then and only then would we say “Now that, my fellow human beings, is the true definition of Community! Huzzah!“.
Community is not celebrating while the world burns.
There are a lot of fires burning in the world, literally and metaphorically, yet we celebrate and enjoy ourselves as if there isn’t a single one, or maybe someone else will put them out. How many stadiums fill up every weekend to worship professional athletes and musicians? How many theaters fill up to worship wealthy actors and comedians? As if these people we idolize and worship are physically making the world a better place. No. When it comes to entertainment and celebratory events, everyone is gathered together for their own self-interests: to make money as the entertainer, or to be entertained as a member of the audience.
No one is saying that we cannot have fun, and that we must work all day and all night, 24 hours a day 7 days a week to fix the world’s problems. But what was once a mere past time, sitting around the campfire telling stories of the day’s events, has turned into The Entertainment Industry, but that’s another article I will write one day. There simply must be a healthier and more rational balance between work and play. We seem to be living in 2 extremes that serve our self-interests and the self-interests of those we work for and that entertain us when we’re not working. We must find the middle ground in order to maintain a healthy balance.
Community is communing.
The root of community is commune, meaning: just being there with each other, in each others’ company, without any self-serving reason, except for the basic need to be social. Communing, not just in regards to the points laid out above, but also communicating (in person, not via electronic messaging), by patiently listening to what each other has to say, and by offering companionship.
What is one glaring reason that people have pets? Because they need companionship. Why do you think some people talk too much? Because they need to be heard. Do you see the trend here? We are often needy, self-serving creatures. But when it comes to talking, in many cases, no one listens to those needing to talk, especially if they have a mental health issue, and when someone finally is compassionate and empathetic towards them, and stops to actual listen to what they have to say, they unload on you with everything that’s pent up in their head because no one has taken the time to listen to them before. And then what do most people do in that instance? They take a step back and make a snap judgement, think things like “this person has issues!” or “get a life!”, etc. and in many cases that will often be the last time they ever attempt to listen to what that person has to say. Meanwhile, the person that “talks too much” once again experiences yet another uncaring fraud of a human, and they go back to keeping everything in, since every additional attempt at talking solidifies their thinking they have something wrong with them. When in reality, the other party isn’t compassionate enough to begin with and would rather talk about simple-minded sports or news. Of course, the other side of that coin is that some people are very domineering in a conversation. People are complex, and we interact with each other in very complex ways. I don’t want to get into a whole analysis of this aspect of communing or communicating, but it’s a real world example.
Community is family.
Probably the main reason we have so many problems in the world is that it starts at home, at the core of what makes us human. We are mammals. And mammals require family. A family that sticks together, spends time together, cares for one another for decades, if not all throughout their lives. Unfortunately, in today’s backwards society, there are too many broken families. There are the high divorce rates which in many cases have a negative impact on the children; parents physically and/or mentally abusing one another and their kids; parents putting alcohol and friends first instead of their family, etc., etc., ad-nauseum. I could probably write an entire thesis on family, but those are just a few examples to make my point.
Community is supposed to be one big family.
That’s what we are as a species. We’re supposed to be highly evolved. We’re supposed to be better than the another mammals in this animal kingdom we are part of. Yet, when you open your eyes and look around at the world, it seems like we’re just as bad as the lion that kills a cub in a rival pride.
When the family is broken, the community is broken.
There is a major disconnect in our society today. We are no longer a community. Part of it has to do with the fact that there are almost 8 billion of us on the planet. Another factor is that there are millions of us living in dense urban areas. Another reason is that we have to work far too much as we do, so there isn’t any time for ourselves, let alone for others. Then you have our inherent selfish, self-serving nature. There are a lot of valid and no-so-valid reasons as to why we are not a true community. But at the end of the day, it still comes down to us, and that we can change the way we go about our business. But it takes effort and hard work. It could even take a drastic revolutionary change. But it is imperative for the health and well being of us, all life on the planet, and the planet itself, that we get back to being what it means to be a true community.
But go ahead, those of you out there who don’t care, who want to watch the world burn, who keep throwing that C word “Community” around like you know what it means while you live in a delusional fantasy world and don’t want to make the effort to do what it takes to create or take part in what a true community actually is. Keep repeating it over and over like a chant to some god. Continue to fool yourselves by using it in your slogans and event banners to entice people just so that you can make money for your charity event. You’ll never be a true community until you start acting like one. And if that means deconstructing society and progressing by reverting back to some form of smaller tribal communities, then so be it.
I’ll be impressed the day I walk outside to see random people repairing the slums of all the neglected homes across the world or simply picking up the trash in the streets. Until then, I’m not holding my breath.
So let’s do ourselves and everyone a favor: the next time the word “community” enters our thought pattern, and that precise moment before we go to type it out or say it, think about all I’ve said above and more, and what “community” really means. Then perhaps use another word instead, since “community” exists as much as the mythical Adult, Freedom, Big Foot, Santa Claus, Flat Earth, etc. etc., ad-nauseum.