Dreaming of community

As I find myself thinking about community, the power of community, and much of the social change that has occurred and grown out of communities, I am in absolute amazement. Community success, and the community’s ability to do for ourselves, I believe comes from the notion that we are all interconnected and interdependent.

This interconnectivity, these communities, ties, and links that we have with every other being is awe inspiring to me. In communities we can find true power. The power of community is what will save us, we will save each other. The Buddhist monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes the power of community by drawing on the power of the Sangha, and Buddhist worldviews below:

Two thousand, five hundred years ago the Buddha Shakyamuni predicted that the next Buddha will be named Maitreya, the “Buddha of Love.” I think the Buddha of Love may be born as a community and not just as an individual. Communities of mindful living are crucial for the survival of our planet. A good Sangha can help us resist the speed, violence, and unwholesome ways of our time. Mindfulness protects us and keeps us going in the direction of harmony and awareness. We need the support of friends in the practice. You are my Sangha. Let us take good care of each other[1].

The strength and power in community is so vast, and even overwhelming. The strength a community holds is like that of an ocean. Oceans are made up of many drops of water, many waves, which when put together make up the oceans that connect and sustain us all on so many levels. Without the ocean the individual drops of water would evaporate, and might even find it very difficult to regenerate in another location. Without the opportunity for regeneration it would become incredibly difficult for all forms of life as we know them to survive, since evaporation, and in turn precipitation would not be able to take place. Perhaps we would adapt to operate without water, but the thing that scientists look for on other planets is water to indicate if there can be life, or if we can potentially inhabit a planet in the future. Every drop of water makes up the ocean, the ocean makes up the clouds, the clouds make up the rain, the rain makes up soil health, soil health, makes up the plant growth, and the cycle continues. Together all of these components make up our common history and existence.

Like each drop of water that is found in the ocean, each member in a community is significant to the make up of the community itself. Keeping in mind that every member of a given community has a role to play, and is important to the success of the community overall is important. I hear people in Greensboro talk about trying to attract people who can help make the community better, but we must not overlook the ocean of knowledge, skill, and possibility in our own sea of Greensboro. Greensboro holds the answers, but do we know which questions to ask, do we know how to recognize how interconnected we are in Greensboro? As Thich Nhat Hanh says the Buddha of Love will be born as a community, not just an individual, and as the residents of Greensboro we must remember that. No one of us alone, and no one who is brought in will save us alone, we will only succeed as a healthy and heart filled community when we join forces, work with each other, and do for ourselves. That is how we will be the Greensboro of which we dream.

– – – – –

[1] Nhat Hạnh. A Joyful Path: Community, Transformation, and Peace. Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax, 1994. 22. Print.