“If I want to create genuine community, I have to be willing to transcend surface-level conversations, even though it might hurt.” – Wade Bearden
Born in a country where family is considered the basic unit of society and where community plays a vital role in every individual’s life, I have personally experienced the problems and powers of being a part of a community.
Whether I’m in my neighborhood, church, school, and at work, there would always be communities and semblances of it. The old adage still rings true: no man is an island, especially in our country where family and community are highly valued.
Last August 29, 2015, the nation once again witnessed the power of community as the second day of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) protest causes heavy traffic on EDSA, one of the main highways in Ortigas Center. The EDSA Shrine was the site of two peaceful demonstrations that toppled Philippine presidents Ferdinand Marcos (in 1986) and Joseph Estrada (in 1982).
The INC crisis made news when Cristina “Ka Tenny” Manalo, widow of the late INC leader Eraño “Erdy” Manalo, and her son, Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo, posted a 54-second video on YouTube asking help, claiming their lives were under threat.
These recent headline news in some ways made me reflect on how the community influences and impacts us all, for better or for worse, depending on how we view it and how we use it in our lives.
3 Problems of the Community
People within and outside the community could:
- Talk about you – Whether you’re doing good or bad, people will always talk about you. You just can’t escape the gossips and rumors brewing in your community. Your response could either be fight or flight and either way may work to your advantage or to your detriment.
- Meddle with your personal affairs – Because Filipinos are such family- and community-oriented people, others tend to meddle even with your personal affairs. For some reason, even acquaintances and strangers would say something (or do something) on social media (or in real life) about issues they should not dabble on in the first place.
- Bring you down – Even without having high expectations on certain communities, they could bring you down emotionally and figuratively speaking. When people have already agreed on a certain notion or fact, they could conspire to bring you down, so beware and be always on alert.
3 Powers of the Community
People within and outside the community could:
- Take care of you – I am blessed with a church community that genuinely cares about its community members. Most of my close Victory friends have visited me when I and my mother were hospitalized on separate occasions.
- Hold you accountable for your actions – Because the ripple effect of your actions could potentially not only hurt or benefit yourself but your community as a whole, they also often serve as vanguards of what’s right and wrong, whether you like it or not.
- Bring you up – One is too small a number to achieve greatness and leave a lasting impact. And when many people actually like your product, service, or they just love you for your personality and what you bring to the table, the community could voluntarily help you succeed in your endeavors.
3 Simple (But Not Easy) Solutions
Robert Frost once said that “the best way out is always through.” Here are a few simple but not always easy solutions, to the challenges in our community:
- Respect the differences – Our individual differences is what makes life more interesting, and at the same time, challenging. When we behave like we’re better than others in a condescending way, or when we act like we’re above the law, situations get convoluted. Respecting other people’s differences (and rights) enables us to take the higher road, though it’s not always easy.
- Agree to disagree – Once the differences have already been drawn and the boundary lines were set, let’s do our best to compromise and agree to disagree in order to serve each other’s objectives. Once we see that it’s not always about “me” or “you” but “we,” we could be openly vulnerable and accept that we could live harmoniously in a community despite our differences.
- Unity in diversity – When we respect the differences and agree to disagree, we make more room to give the benefit of the doubt to others failures, giving more chance to being united in diversity for the greater benefit of everyone.
Our communities would always be there for us if we would not only live for ourselves. It’s a give and take relationship. Our being part of the whole, no matter how small, flawed, or helpless we feel and see ourselves at times, does not mean we’re not important.
Every single one of us is significant and of value, not only in and for ourselves but also for our communities.
Our words and deeds ultimately affect other lives, whether we’re aware of it or not.