We need freedom and security at the same time. In everyday reality, we tend to sacrifice freedom for security or, if we abandon security, we risk precarious freedom. This tension leads us to seek a solution in the community. Is the community the place to find freedom and security? After almost a year of living in an intentional community, I realize that I am shifting my focus from the pressures of society to individual awareness. To do so, I learn…a movement.
What does "making community" mean today?
Why are we drawn to the word “community”? I like this word, I associate it with “being together” and a feeling of warmth and well-being. Bauman in “Community. Seeking Safety in an Insecure World” seems to read my mind. According to him, the need for community comes from that set of tensions in which one finds both the rewarding feeling of freedom in choosing who to be and what to do, and the feeling of anguish of lack of protection that comes from larger and more individualistic society, where you have to get by in solitary competition.
We need freedom and, at the same time, security. In reality we tend to sacrifice freedom for security or, if we abandon security, we risk a precarious freedom.
So, in the end, what are we looking for? A sense of belonging. Why? Because perhaps by feeling that we belong to someone and something shared, we can be who we are, express our talents, feel welcomed and welcome the other, be free and feel secure with others. Perhaps one of the greatest human aspirations.
And so...let's make a community?
Can we make community? When I happen to find the laundry picked up before the rain by some foresighted hand, I have no doubt. The answer is “yes.” When, at the end of a long meeting, I go out with atrophied neurons and the question “what did we finally decide?”, I can also question the concept of “meeting”.
Is “community building” an innate human ability? I’d say not today. It is innate sociability (yes, it is true: there are some splendid exceptions of “bear sapiens”) but to make community, to be part of it, to contribute to its meaning is a constant process, sometimes harmonious and sometimes not, sometimes fluid and sometimes decidedly contradictory and, above all, never static.
It is not even identical, the community changes with people. New discourses open new possibilities, new points of view, new negotiations that work today but that can be archived tomorrow.
In serene moments everything is beautiful and welcoming. Then come the doubts, the hardships and anxieties that open the way to impatience, rigidity, detachment. Today the other can be an illuminating mirror, a precious key of interpretation and tomorrow a hermetic enigma. It is no longer clear whether those reflected are my or your defects, my or your limits, my or your misunderstanding. The other, me, us… it’s all the same!
Nothing is permanent except that this is “making community” or, better still, ” creating relationship”, every day.
If it is tiring in the couple, in the community the word “tiring” is too simple. It’s destabilizing. But how? Wasn’t the community the pursuit of security and freedom in security?
Yes, it was.
Then it doesn’t work.
It depends… you have to figure out what you’re looking for or who you’re looking for…
You learn to live with others. Being with others is constant learning, being good enough to do it is art.
The relationship with the other brings out ancient experiences, often unaddressed. I believe that the first reaction to what gets out of control (a bit easier to maintain in the “traditional” world, divided into home, work, hobbies, friendships) is that of fear, pain and closure. Another is that of discouragement: “Oh my God, I’m a monster!”. This is the first real obstacle that every community, in everyday life, offers to those who enter it. The temptation to leave the group, to enter into conflict or depression, or both depending on the moment, is great.
But the opportunity is also great. I would say unique. If you accept to be destabilized, you enter into criticism and judgment, which tend to be a moment of growth, of maturity. However… it is soon to sing victory! The new obstacle is more devious than the first. The hyper-criticism in response to social judgment. Towards oneself, towards the other, towards oneself and towards the other depending on the moment, the sensation, the perception, even of the moon, every now and then.
To question oneself, to acknowledge that one does not know, is really a great achievement. But it becomes a trap if you don’t move from there.
The human being seeks the group. First the family. It is a deep need and, at the same time, a great human fragility and it would be beautiful if it were welcomed with tenderness and acceptance. Utopia! A bit like it said about communities, places where humans try to realize the dream of living together, in harmony, in warmth.
Broken. At the first, icy, incomprehension.
But how high is our expectation? I think it is directly proportional to the need to belong.
Then let’s retire? Stop trying? No. Let’s move the shot. Not high, not low, but in the middle. Straight, in ourselves.
The great opportunity for the community is to learn to make a movement. From oneself to the other, from the other to oneself and so on. Swing but without falling or breaking. One belongs, first of all, to oneself.
How do you do that? There’s a Greek maxim that helps me: “Know yourself and you will know the universe“. It makes me feel very ignorant but also very curious.
It is difficult to see and get to know each other without the other, we need the other but the other is not a clear mirror, also because it is difficult for the other to see and get to know him or herself.
What is the point of letting ourselves be destabilised until we lose the certainty of ourselves?
Belonging to someone and something, while remaining centered in oneself, seems almost contradictory. Yet is there a better way to have freedom (to be oneself) and security (to accept the destabilization of relationships)?
Knowing oneself is, therefore, the reason for such a complex challenge? I think not. I think it is only the beginning. But it’s a bit like being tuned, having the awareness of one’s own note “playing” with others.