One way to approach a spiritual concept—and community is a spiritual concept—is to go to its opposite first.  What are some examples of the opposite of community

Anti-mask protest, Sheffield, UK, 7/18/2020. Photo by Tim Dennell on Flickr.

Not wearing masks in a time of pandemic.

Shutting down health care for millions of human beings (why this question is even on the Supreme Court docket is beyond me). 

Why do we ask this group that already gutted the voting rights act; and instructed the world that “corporations are persons,” thus turning our politics into an even bigger free for all for cash;  and assured us that certain groups and businesses can opt out of laws that they claim offend their religious beliefs, laws created to protect  minorities and uphold the common good–“Daddy, can we please keep our meager health care?”

Rugged individualism and toxic, macho masculinity that demand being in charge and on top of things.

Racism and White supremacy. 

Denying climate change.

Village musicians play at a traditional dance for the pre-Incan Karanki community of San Clemente, in the province of Imbabura, Ecuador. Photo by Phila Hoopes

Enough on the opposite of community.

Jamake Highwater, in his book, The Primal Mind, speaks to the understanding of community among indigenous peoples:

In tribal religions there is no salvation apart from the continuance of the tribe itself because the existence of the individual presupposes the existence of the community.

Isn’t that the fact with all of us?  Does the existence of each of us and all of us not depend on the existence of the community?  The community and/or communities of which we are a part—our families, neighborhoods, city, area, bioregion, state, country, work group, profession, religion or….?  They all are fields that hold and instruct us. 

“Hoyewaye, I am sending my voice so the People May Live” – one Lakota woman’s story of rediscovering her path through the Lifeways of the Lakota. Film debuted at the Indigenous Voices 2009; Uploaded to Youtube by denise giago.

Yet indigenous people, looking around at our broken culture, find it necessary to remind us that community matters so that “the people may live.”  Highwater continues: “Life does not exist without the tribe which gives animation to its members.”  Are we receiving animation and life from our tribe or various tribes? 

Post-modern Sociologist Scott Truit Anderson says that today people belong to so many communities at once that we should write “etc” after our names.  Multiple communities are a sign of our times, but often our connection is superficial.  Without community, loneliness reigns and there is much of that today in the world.  So clearly, community is not in healthy shape everywhere.  “All our relations” remains a rare consciousness.

Trailer for the documentary Living Soil, featuring innovative farmers and soil health experts from diverse regions throughout the United States. For the full documentary and educational materials, click HERE. Uploaded to YouTube by Soil Health Institute.

Wes Jackson, director of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, speaks about our relationship with the soil.  

Soil is a placenta or matrix, a living organism which is larger than the life it supports, a tough elastic membrane which has given rise to many life forms….

Much soil is dying today and “it is a death that is utterly senseless and portends our own.”  As soil goes, so goes humanity. 

What is good for the hive is good for the bees.  What is good for the community is good for the individuals in it.  Letting human anthropocentrism go, we can learn from nature instead of seeking to conquer and lord over it. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp 80f.

Banner Image: The Shanti community feeds the hungry from the surrounding slums of Lalitpur District, Nepal. Photo provided by Marianne Grosspietsch. See the full story of Shanti community HERE.

How many communities do you belong to today?  Do you agree that what is good for the hive is good for the bees?  How do you apply that teaching in your own life?  In your own community or communities?

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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