Any time we aim to connect with someone, it is important to focus on understanding the other person.
It is easier to listen just to reply, to judge, to argue.
Understanding what the other person is trying to say and why, is really necessary to be able to connect.
Understanding is also important for forgiveness.
As long as I was thinking about my hurts I could not forgive. The minute I started to think about the possible reasons why someone did what hurt me, I could let go.
It is easy to judge, to hate, to exclude and to condemn. Isn't it?
Just think about the priests who have abused children. Isn't it easier to hate them or judge them than understand them?
Think about someone who commits an armed robbery. Isn't it easier wanting to punish them and put behind bars forever than to understand why they did it?
Think about all the divorces. Isn't it easier to condemn all those who divorce, instead of trying to understand them?
Think about it! Once we understood how electricity worked we could start using it in our own advantage!
Just like with natural phenomenons like electricity, once we start understanding what people need we can treat them and work with them better.
Knowing vs. Understanding
I am just thinking about another dimension of understanding.
Knowing is a more intellectual thing. I heard about something, so I know about it. Let it be about the news or theology.
Understanding is more like an emotional thing. I understand it because I have experienced it. I understand it because I have lived it.
We don't always realise the difference. When someone knows about something he or she tends to simply talk about it. On the other hand when someone gets to a certain level of understanding tends to act accordingly.
If we don't understand something, we tend to reject it or name it foolish. It requires some effort to be able to say: well, I don't understand it just yet. But let's keep it in the back of my mind, maybe I will understand it later.
Understanding is also something that can grow and develop. The more experience we have the more facets and aspects of the thing we can understand.
Now let's talk about community building.
It can very well be, that you don't really get what this really is. And if you haven't had the chance to participate and don't yet have a personal experience with it, it is understandable.
Now, there are those people who have read M. Scott Peck's book about community making, and so they kind of know it.
And those people sometimes argue with experienced people. Because they think they know. And they do know, but they don't really have the understanding.
You may have experienced this within your field, too. Someone who read a few books, watched some YouTube videos, and they think they know (like how to build a successful business or how to lead people). But they have never built a business or lead people themselves so they lack on understanding.
One way to test our understanding is to try and come up with our own terminology for it.
So for example, Scott Peck identified four stages groups go through on the attempt of becoming a true community.
These are his names for those four stages:
BTW: when reading these words for the first time, they can be pretty meaningless. But because I have been lucky enough to know the process from within, those words mean a lot more. And I have an opinion about them. And I have come up with my own names for those stages, I think are more expressive.
Here are my names for those stages:
Have you been to a community building event yourself? What would you name those stages?
If you haven't been to one yet, then I am waiting to see what your terminology will be.
BTW: precisely understanding is what a community building experience will allow you to grow in.
The chances are high that at the end of the two days you will feel that you have learnt a lot (although we won't give you any material at all, except for a story or two).
And because this will be more like growing in understanding you won't probably be able to verbalize all that you learned, but you will have learnt a lot nonetheless.