In all religions we are encouraged to join our respective communities. Whether it is through a House of Worship, a distinctive small group, a benevolent outreach or simply attending special events, all Spiritual Leaders always encourage “belonging”. One can belong to a Gym and/or a Tennis Club but there is something very different about belonging to something deeper. We may still need the Gym and the Tennis Club for fun and good physical health but if truth be told, there is a void that never gets filled if we are not a part of something that reaches the Soul of who we were created to be. This is because humanity has a deep psychological need to feel closely connected to others of like mind on a more than superficial level. Having these types of close relationships are a major part of human behavior and need.
There are many that rebel against their own needs saying they are not in want of any relationships and especially the headaches that come with Religious Community involvement yet, when we read about communication between the Divine and Humanity in all of our Bible stories, there was always intended Community involvement. Throughout the world as one travels we observe that there are segregated communities in every area that represent cultures and ideologies. Should we spend time in these places, we also observe that generally these communities seem to be happiest when they are living amongst their own. When it comes time for their young to leave for their higher education, we find even when they stray a bit once they marry they return to their identity and strive to instill the richness of who they are in their families.
Americans on the other hand have proven as a rule to very often fight more to keep their satiation levels at an all time high than to keep any cultural identity and ideologies alive in their legacy.
It is no surprise that Americans according to Pew Research have the largest group of spiritually unaffiliated numbers. (http://religions.pewforum.org/reports) It is the humble opinion of this writer that although there are many struggles when community is formed, like minds joined together is a basic human need. By belonging, we authenticate who we are.
CONNECTING TO WHO YOU ARE.
I once heard someone say, you cannot be who you are all by yourself. A Social theory I find fascinating is by Tajfel and Turner (1979), which tells us that our social identity comes from three distinct categories:
1. Social Categorizations,
2. Social Identification and,
3. Social Comparison.
All three of these simply processed by us speak for itself. We come to know each other by what is important to us, where we identify ourselves and how we differ from others. It is this kind of belonging that strengthens us individually. It is this type of belonging that helps us live out our purpose in life. Problems that can arise when we begin to compare ourselves with other groups have been evident. The politics that form within our very own is unfortunate. If we can remember that, it is not the comparisons that are wrong but the responses to what is different than us that can create unnecessary tension and rivalry between and within groups we will achieve keeping our traditions alive in peace. The victory is in knowing the differences that exist and respecting them. Owning who we are and allowing others to do the same is what teaches us to integrate with society in peace. This is when integration becomes beautiful.
COMMUNITY AND THE NEED TO BELONG
What is it that motivates us in life? Although we know some have more mood swings than others, there are certainly times for all of us when we are a little low and other times we are somewhat high. There are times we feel we could move a mountain and other times getting up in the morning is a chore. Whether you are one that feels you need people or one that lives in denial of it, one of the worst moments on our journey is when we feel alone. When no one is around to talk or listen. When no one is available to just quietly sit in a room with us. When you cannot find anyone that really cares about your situation enough to be there for you the epiphanies begin to hit like fireworks. In a normal scenario, this is the time when we take inventory of how we have viewed all relationships and people in our past.
How have we treated others in our lives and when were we the happiest? Nine times out of ten we arrive at realities for our future. It may not have been you that caused the friction or the distance; it may not have been you that changed over night. Nonetheless, our happiest times are when we have had family, real friends and a good community around us. If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that people are our number one motivators for pursuing life and purpose.
There is a built in mechanism inside of us that appears to be on autopilot. The properly closer we get to someone, the more our purpose, situations and viewpoints cross each other. The more we integrate our destinies for reciprocal support and even if vastly different, this helps us achieve fulfillment and happiness. There will always be some that may not need the feeling of community as much as others and others that join community without discernment. Notwithstanding, we were created to need each other. We were created to crave that sense of belonging. Whether that means to a group of two or two hundred, we will at some point in life need to seek community. Along with the balance of opposing views, we need those that are of one heart and one mind to live around us. It is these opposites that help us “Be”. We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water.
I heard someone once say, “if you are a duck you quack and if you are a dog you bark” Let us work hard at keeping who we were created to be and what we were created to do. When it is all said and done; “you cannot be who you are all by yourself” (Note: the above article was written conceptually. The writer is aware of the the many up's and downs, pro's and con's in belonging to community. The struggles and obstacles are overlooked for the sake of the message)