The Value of Community
Humankind is more than a collection of independent persons. We are interconnected beings. Physicists keep searching for a unified field theory that can integrate our understanding of all physical forces. Love can be compared to a unifying electromagnetic force that causes a mutual attraction between objects.
Love at its essence is a binding power and an emotional force. Both the initiator and the respondent long to be united with each other and experience joy. The initiating partner attracts a response by investing heart. The responding partner attracts love by manifesting truth, beauty, and goodness. Interaction is the dynamism of friendship and the pulse of a community.
Contributing to Society
Research into the new field of evolutionary psychology suggests that societies that are more altruistic have been better equipped to handle challenges. When we enjoy associating and working with others, we become highly attuned to the opinions and influence of others, because ultimately it is in our best interests to do so.
The daily labor of ordinary working people, farmers, artists, scientists and engineers, teachers, businesspeople, and civil servants advances social progress. Our labor, large and small, is one of the most basic ways in which we affect the lives of others and bring innumerable benefits to humanity. Our reward is measured not only by our wages, but also by our inner satisfaction from having contributed to the larger society.
The success of modern economies has been, at least in part, based on the discipline of the free market that encourages companies to serve the needs of the customer. Successful businesses utilize market dynamics and discover that profits increase when they put the customer first. Likewise, the best workers are motivated by more than their paycheck. We take pride in producing goods and services that people like and in working for a company that serves the community. A job well done is a fundamental source of our dignity and sense of self-worth.
For most of us, mastering a skill or pursuing a career is a means not only to achieve personal satisfaction and to support our family but also to serve others in the community and larger society. When our training is grounded in good character and a caring heart, we act responsibly for the benefit of others. With this outlook, a professor will find joy in imparting knowledge to students as well as in private research, and a doctor will seek to understand the human spirit as well as the human body. However, when we lack the foundation of the previous two goals, there is no guarantee that society will benefit from our expertise. The professor will love his subject but not his students and may even see them as a hindrance to his work. The doctor will be cold and aloof and will not be able to reassure and comfort the sick.
Some of the most meaningful contributions we can make involve the sacrifice of personal comfort and wealth. A frail elderly parent, a handicapped spouse, or a child with special needs may require long years of devotion. Distinguished citizens put the needs of their community ahead of their family or career advancement. When our circle of concern extends beyond our family and immediate community, we send aid to victims of a natural disaster or patriotically defend our nation in times of crisis. To transcend our ethnic and national boundaries in order to serve others is the characteristic of a humanitarian. If we create bridges of understanding between cultures that promote world peace, we become world citizens.
The Benefits of Community
There are numerous benefits to being part of a group or community. We can learn from each other and give support and encouragement. The following list of benefits of community was posted in an article called, "The Importance of Community" by Justine Clarabut. (The Importance of Community | Wellbeing People)
SUPPORT Being part of a community enables us to give support to other members. Being supportive of others will help them to feel good and better about themselves. With so much stress in the busy world we live in, there’s never been a more important time to help others struggling with their mental and physical wellbeing.
INFLUENCE With community participation comes empowerment. When people feel empowered, they feel a sense of control enabling them to influence positive change. It is about making a difference to a group that matters to its members.
SHARING stimulates innovation and growth. Ideas breed new ideas. Apart from having personal benefits of gaining knowledge and insight, sharing also contributes to the community’s greater worth.
REINFORCEMENT can be an effective learning tool to encourage desirable behaviors and provide motivation. A strong community will go beyond the immediate, basic needs and ensure that fulfillment is a positive experience. By doing so, it builds positive rewards and reinforcement for an enjoyable sense of togetherness.
CONNECTION An open bond with new connections is what builds valuable relationships and gives us a deeper sense of belonging. It helps us to reach our goals and brings a sense of security.
LEARNING/RESOURCES – communities are rich in resources. Having knowledge is a unique resource and through its use, it increases in value.
PASSION having an outlet for passions gives people the opportunity to share a subject they’re passionate about. This helps to spread confidence and encouragement to create new things that they can share with others.
Successful and Enduring Relationships
The interaction between subject and object is dynamic, not static. It is this dynamic interaction that generates the energy of life and allows for the realization of our full potential. Cooperative effort on a shared task, for example, can actually result in increased energy, while the prolonged absence of relationship will often result in lethargy. When we are surrounded by stimulating, loving relationships with friends, family, and co-workers, we are fully alive and highly productive.
In a relationship, the initiator takes the subject role; next it may change roles to receive the response from the object partner. In higher beings there are many variations in roles. In a family, for instance, parents cultivate the heart and conscience of their children, and children stimulate their parents through their innocent and spontaneous responses.
In successful and enduring relationships, partners focus first on giving and then on receiving. Studies of the most successful and well-regarded people reveal that they show a fundamentally generous attitude towards other people. Giving creates an area of low pressure, a vacuum that begs to be filled. So, the giver will ultimately receive.
Traditional maxims reflect this principle:
“As a man sows, so shall he reap.”[i]
Confucius' disciple Tse-Kung asked, “Is there a word that one can practice all one's life?” Confucius replied, “It is the word eshu—reciprocity. Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.”[ii]
The Golden Rule, echoed by so many cultures, says it positively: “Treat others as one would want to be treated.[iii]
Students thrive when they have positive relationships and belong to groups.
The desire to fit in provides a major source of motivation and -- at times -- challenges to school rules. Students may feel conflicting desires to belong to an ethnic or cultural group, girls’ or boys’ athletic teams, or any one of a number of other groups. Learning to work positively within a social group is important to maturity. Students strengthen their sense of self-worth when they receive recognition, approval, appreciation, and respect from their peers.[iv]
When students aren’t able to attain positive relationships, they feel alienated and this leads to loneliness. Respect for different cultures and types of people is important for students, teachers, and parents. At the same time, students need relationships that will help them flourish. Associating with others who have (violence or drug abuse, etc.,) problems may allow the benefit of belonging but could encourage poor behavioral choices. Good connections with caring teachers, coaches, mentors, parents, and other adults can help guide students to make better choices for friends and behaviors as well as increasing academic engagement and motivation. Love, ideals, happiness, or peace cannot be realized individually and can only be realized through relationships.