I have heard this question or wondering: when there was the terrorist attack we had this sense of togetherness, sense of brotherhood, sense of community.
Why can't we have the same now?
I think there are a number of different significant differences between the two situations. It is possible to create a sense of community without a crisis but it does not happen as in the presence of it.
When a crisis hits, let it be a hurricane, a terrorist attack, a mass shooting or a life-threatening combat situation, we go through a big loss or a potential big loss that is the same for the people involved.
In a situation like that the source of the distress is mostly obvious to everyone, and staying in the comfort zone is not an option. Hiding vulnerability is not much of an option either. Although not everyone is affected emotionally the same way, but it is much easier to understand and relate to one another being in the same overwhelming situation.
This is not a situation where ignoring one another is very much possible either, because all need some help and that mainly can come from each other so listening to one another comes much more naturally. So not caring is not an option. You are affected by the same issue so you have to budge.
Making fun of each other becomes much more difficult when one is affected by the same big issue. Hence, respect is much easier.
When there is no such problem causing losses to people community is not instinctive. Instinctive is the comfort zone. Instictive is to be divided by our differences and by our different personal goals.
It is possible to build community under everyday conditions but it takes some desire and skilled facilitation. It takes some desire because whithout desire we simply stay in our comfort zones.
It takes some skilled facilition because while being in a crisis together outstanding respect, concern for each other, listening and empathy occure instinctively, in an everyday situation these values need to be practiced consciously. Practicing those values on the other hand requires some effort and commitment.
It is more challenging to appreciate someone's sharing when we are not affected by the same problem. Maybe we go through a relationship crisis, like a divorce. But others may not have had or having the same issue. In this case for those who are in a comfy place from this point of view, it is much easier to become judgmental, or to start lecturing, try to convert or heal the one affected by it.
Actually, all of us have some sort of a crisis in our lives, all the time. Let it be financial, health related, relational or vocational, we all have our own silent crises. So there is a need for community. It is more of a challenge, however, to respect, understand and accept those issues we are not dealing with at that moment.
Because we are not affected by the same issue, it is more challenging to create the safe place for opening up. It is more challenging to listen, because we are not dealing with the same problem and we don't instinctively want to take on extra burdens. The individual differences are bigger. And it is easier to pretend. Because my problems in my life are not so obvious, it is easier for me to pretend that everything is ok.
So for these reasons it takes desire and skilled facilitation. Desire makes the conscious effort possible, skilled facilitation guides the effort in the right direction. (like instead of trying to pretend like we were already in community share vulnerability and displeasure; or instead of trying to convert or heal, attempt to respect, understand and negotiate)
A sudden, unexpected loss that can create a sense of common fate and community instinctively can also probably traumatize people. This is just a guess from my part, but I think those people who were not ready to take on any extra burden in their lives can get traumatized by a crisis.
On the other hand a voluntary community brings personal growth, emotional well-being, and a higher quality cooperation among the group members. These result from the effort of the participants and the service the group members get from each other in forms of respectful listening, empathizing and sharing meaningful personal experiences. They can cooperate better because they get to know each other better and instead of judging each other they negotiate viable agreements.
In a sentence: community always has its price and it does not happen comfortably. The price of a deep sense of community is paid by a big loss in a crisis situation, and this sense of community only helps the mitigation of the problem and the recovery.
In the case of an intentional community the price is paid by the experience, effort and skills of the facilitators and the conscious effort and commitment of the participants. This setup brings personal growth, emotional well-being and an improved co-operation between the group members.
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