We are not born alone. But, over time, we perceive our differences, our uniqueness, and, sometimes, our own isolation.
Human beings are tribal. Individuals create communities for mutual benefit - benefits for themselves and for the community as a whole. It can be a virtuous circle.
Of course, there is a cruel side to this. Communities distinguish between insiders and outsiders. Being an outsider can be painful, especially when the community is less tolerant of diversity.
Bullying, for example, is a failure of the community to take care of its members. It is not the failure of the victim for standing up for themselves, or of the tormentor who has not been held to task by the community. Dangerous children often become that way, because they have never been held accountable for their actions.
The more isolated a community becomes, the more difficult it is to be an outsider, as the community becomes more insular. Thankfully, the world is large and opportunities abound to find like-minded souls and kindred spirits.
Take Comicon, for example (as illustrated in the photo). Here people from all over the world come together to celebrate cosplay and their favourite characters. A lot of these people would be considered outsiders back home. But, here, they are in their element. They feel part of something greater than themselves, can demonstrate their own creativity, and can make life-long friendships.
Community, then, can be both good and bad.
Nevertheless, belonging to a community makes us an insider and relieves feelings of isolation.
There is a danger that, as societies become increasingly diverse, that communities fragment into a kaleidoscope. This is a positive trend in that people can increasingly find communities that they can belong to, but it's negative because it creates friction between communities that must share the same territory. It can be a precursor to war. We are already seeing a breakdown in "shared experience" within our own, post-Internet communities. When people feel as if they have less in common with their neighbour, it should be cause for concern.
Despite the downsides, though, community is what makes an individual stronger. Without community, we feel isolation, which leads to desperation, violence or depression.
A healthy community, which encourages a broad membership and fully supports its members, reinforces its rules and corrects anti-social behaviour (as defined by the community). Identity of the members is defined by the community. So long as the rules promote the welfare of all members, it enables everyone to lead happy and fulfilling lives. In other words, community makes us stronger. Without it, we are alone. And that is a desperate place to be.
What do you think...?
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