I spoke with a friend yesterday about a funeral she had just attended.
It’s weird to say ‘it was a good funeral’ but my friend came away from this funeral with a positive feeling having witnessed the power of the community at this time of mourning.
The woman who had died, lived in an area in Dublin that you could describe as old Dublin. She knew everyone on her street and they knew her. They were a street of neighbours who checked in on each other, who liked each other and who helped each other out. The priest wept as he described who this woman was and what she meant to the community.
As my friend told me and the rest of the group about this community mourning together, we were all moved. And surprised. Did this kind of thing still exist? It had existed. My grandmother lived in rural west Cork and she had that kind of community. But hearing an example of this today, is rare.
We have moved away from community, thinking perhaps we have evolved beyond the need for it, with all kinds of technology at our disposal. But, if you ask me, it’s a mistake. We are pushing ourselves to evolve beyond a fundamental human need.
What good is it to me that I know what temperature it is in the furthest corners of the world if I don’t know my next door neighbours name, who I have lived beside for 10 years?
It worries and saddens me to see this boxed living we are moving towards. We get caught up in the need to climb ladders to have more money to buy bigger boxes. Boxes to live in, boxes to travel in, boxes to watch, boxes to work in, until finally we buy a box to die in.
I don’t think there is anything I value more than having a community. It is something I lack in Dublin and something I found in Nice. The growth economy is destroying the ability to have a community, in my opinion. If I want to have a community in any major city, the chances are I can’t afford to live and work in the same area to facilitate that. So I spend my time living far out in an affordable area, and commute to work. I don’t know my neighbours, because they are doing the same as me, but not necessarily commuting to the same location, and all the people I work with, live scattered in other affordable parts of the city. This growth model and city design is very business friendly, designed to sustain a good workforce, but it is not designed to create or support a community.
What I found in Nice opened my eyes to how possible it is to live in a community. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the need I have within me for connection through community, is a need that most of us have. I learned that by simply speaking that need, it was met. I think fear often keeps us from finding our community. We feel disconnected and assume that we are the only ones searching for connection, when the reality is, that many of us are individually lacking community, living side by side in our separate boxes.
We have the ability to create a care community. We are a community.
It’s time to reach out. Let go of the fear and remember that we all have the same basic human need for care, community and contact.
Community is all around us. We just need to figure out how to connect with each other.