Seeking community – its fundamentals

(Picture: These children deserve a warm and loving community and a world of wonder in which to grow and flourish like those in most developed countries)

I have been invited to participate in projects around community development, learning activities around world transitions, and discussions of all sorts about the dilemmas faced globally. I find in most cases; I see people begin with finding answers or models to be used to solve the perceived challenges.

I do believe that the identified issues of global warming, economic meltdown and terrorism are indeed major challenges. But they are not necessarily the basic impediments that we face as humans. They are merely symptoms of a greater human need and malaise: a crisis of despair.

There are two more fundamental challenges facing the human inhabitants of the world.  The first is the demographic shift, unlike any other in human history.  The second, most important, is a spiritual vacuum. Both are related and enmeshed.

Today unlike other times, there are no sureties, much less truths.  Truths last as long as the next media blitz or the next “scientific” study. Both of which have proven wanting.

 I am an optimist but have learned that for it to be sustainable, optimism must be tempered with a dose of realism.  The world is going through such a period of realism currently, with major implications for us all.

I agree with the fundamental value of community and its role in creating solutions for those who live in them. But I would offer a few thoughts based on what I have learned in over forty years of community involvement in many countries. 

What is required is not tinkering in the margins, or attempting to solve the unsolvable, by addressing the symptoms of our distress. 

There is a need to get to the real and fundamental issue: that of the spiritual decline or vacuum that exists in our world.  For without addressing this primary issue the others will only grow in significance.

There is a need for a spiritual revolution, not one of violence, but of tolerance, kindness, and care.  These are the foundations of community.

It is only this realization that can rebuild the hope, which is life itself, fortify faith the very basis of belief, and intensify feelings, the foundation of love.  The fledgling beginnings of such a revolution are becoming apparent.  

When these values are once again rooted in the hearts of people the other dilemmas will soon dissipate.  The causes of global warming will become important, the flawed approaches to economy, mostly driven by greed, will moderate and the people who terrorize will have no need, as their needs and desperation will disappear.

 When these real foundations of community are rebuilt, families, homes and communities will eclipse the focus on monetary speculation, financial wealth, and material worship as the basis of human accomplishment.

I realized over the years as I have moved from one place to another that each time is like a rebirth, whereby one must learn all the basics of life once again. You progress from unknowing through learning to enable you to stand on your own feet.  

In our world, people also must deal with technological advances, undreamt of even fifty years ago. Thus, it is important to preserve the memories of times now past and the human values that made those memories possible.

The real challenge lies in how to translate, and pass on these fundamental human values to meet the needs and desires of this new generation of fresh young minds?  More importantly, how to instill these values in their hearts?

This younger generation faces different challenges, different learning, and diverse needs greater than can be truly comprehended.

The most that the fading generations can do for those who are younger is to share their learning, wisdom, and care in providing awareness, education, and support as they face their own lives, challenges, and experiences. 

As a result, this newer generation, like most others before, will have to learn these values in their own way.

Several years ago, at a conference, a speaker in his presentation suggested the following: “We have to find a way to make beauty necessary.  Beauty is the impossible which lasts.”

This prompted me to write this brief note: There is beauty in dreams.  Dreams create the “magic of possibility.”

 The challenge that we face in development today is creating an environment where people feel comfortable with each other, where we can “create warmth” and where people feel secure enough, to not only dream, but to share these dreams with others.

The “process” starts with hope, which encourages dreams, evolves leadership, illuminates opportunity, translates into action, and leads to sustainability.

 Sustainability is about knowing who we are, what we have, what we can do, and who can and will help.  More importantly, it is having the patience to build the local understanding of what can be done by first encouraging the dreaming, and then by supporting all those who dare to dream.

 For, within the hearts of people everywhere, lie the dreams, often dormant, that cause real development to happen.  Fulfilled dreams provide stimulus and inspiration for others to explore their own depths. Then, they can seek those latent aspirations which eventually form the social, economic, and spiritual fabric of every society.

 A community and a society which allows people to dream, and then supports them in the fulfillment of these dreams, is surely one of the “beauties” of life and is certainly the “impossible which lasts.” “Therein lies the real magic of possibilities.”

I believe that the essence of community is about feelings. Feelings emanate from knowing and knowing comes from awareness.  The more that we become aware of our environment, our circumstances and those who share the world with us, the more our knowledge grows.  Expanded knowledge creates stronger feelings, deeper relationships, and an enhanced sense of our inter-connectivity resulting in stronger communities.

 It is my contention that community begins when two people share.  Sharing is what creates economy, social well-being, spiritual comfort, and subsequently, lifestyle. Community development is neither the beginning, nor the end; it is the process and the measure of our ability to share. 

It relates to people, their aspirations, their dreams and fundamentally, their own efforts to bring these to reality.  Thus, each sharing is a new beginning, a new development, and a new reality.

The philosophical basis for developing any plan or transition offers an opportunity for reflection on the beliefs and values of community, society, or country that is dear to people living there. 

It only has value if it is felt in the hearts of the people who believe and, because of their belief, wish to encompass it in their lives, and the lives of those whom they love.

Written by William (Bill) Pardy

March 26th, 2023

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