A recent conference brought to the forefront a serious discussion that sociologists and others have had for some time, but its meaningfulness has not yet filtered down to most localized organizations and entities.
It is commonplace for all of us to use the term "community". We use it as a part of everyday language for various purposes. We take for granted or assume that everyone has the same interpretation of the term for the same reason. Maybe not.
The intent of the conference breakout session was, calling on participants to rethink this word "community", and to begin to develop a more authentic and realistic paradigm for its understanding and use.
We usually refer to a community as a geographic location or group associated with each other. This could even include a workplace, church, or similar unit of people together.
What is being debated is whether or not that is sufficient criteria to make a place an actual community.
Sociologists and other human relations specialists contend that there is much more involved, and for that reason alone, many organizations, entities, and other associations, continually fail at becoming true communities. They, instead, simply exist as clusters of people involved in assorted activity with no genuine attachment.
For a real community to both exist and thrive, there must be a definite connect between the people and the association.There must be a clear creation, understanding, and sharing of the vision and mission of the particular community.
An effective purpose or mission can only be brought forward when it has been developed by people...members of the community...who are totally committed to each other through respect and communication.
A community must engage in relevant discussion on the important issues of the day effecting them.
But more importantly, a community must come to a point of recognizing and accepting the fact that a community has diversity of perspective and viewpoints, and that situation is healthy and quite beneficial.
Further, that through such varied and diverse opinion and perceptions, sound and workable direction and policy can be achieved if appreciation and respect for differences is always maintained.
Community success will never be realized until all segments concede that there is a mutual interdependence on each other for reaching goals and accomplishing missions. Continued fragmentation is a sure recipe for failure. There is a need for a coming together to determine and follow a common good for diverse interests.
Above all, there must be a dedication of the members of all communities to engage in ongoing, conversations about the most critical issues facing any community and potential resolutions. Through such dialogue, necessary and solvent priorities can be evolved.
But first a respectful environment of conversation must exist to promote community commitment and quality.