The Community of People -- Our Only Real Asset
Homes, money, income, livelihood, health, youth, enjoyment, control and a myriad of other illusory constants in our drastically changing world are neither secure nor are they stable. What we have taken for granted is now slipping away. All that is left is ourselves. We are all in this together.
In this series of essays, I will describe my vision of community in terms of the challenges and obstacles that generally afflict it. My goal is to assist the development of a meaningful alternative to the present non-functioning social structure of the western world.
One might think that everyone who enters into a communal environment has different reasons for being there. While we do have our own unique reasons for being where we are and doing what we do, we all share the basic motivations in life.
Each person wants good food, a nice place to live, friends, family, entertainment, an education, a possibility to grow and develop and express themselves. A society is required to facilitate the fulfillment of these basic, universal desires.
Although we all have these things to a greater or lesser degree, times have changed so radically in the past year that more and more of us are feeling an intense pressure that challenges our capacity to maintain our status quo.
Looking forward, creating a community that fulfills our natural requirements in a sociable and pleasant manner seems to be an important and perhaps even critical means to survive the present chaotic situation.
It is easy to make a list of what we want from a community and it is even easier to get others to agree with our desires. The discussion stage is not complex when we speak about our communal goals as we all share the same basic needs and desires. It is when we start to implement this that trouble begins.
Trouble is born from human interaction. Humans have problems created by their own personal natures, inflamed by the traumas that have scarred them, and complicated by being forced to interact with other humans in the same situation. A community may be initiated with great enthusiasm and conviction, only to be deteriorated from within when the native qualities of the uncultured spirit choke off cooperation.
Greed ruins sharing, anger destroys all peace. Psychological difficulties create conflict and tension. The fear of not being in control of others or placing unreasonable demands on them creates personal and communal stress. This stress and tension creates an atmosphere that dissolves the spirit of the union.
It is for this reason that none of the many communities borne from idealism or religious conviction survive for long. A community cannot be held together by conviction alone neither can it find harmony through shared ideals. While conviction, dedication, hard work and idealism are certainly good qualities, especially when they are spiced with sufficient selflessness and a healthy desire to be of service, communities only succeed when they are based in strong economic principles and the guarantee of personal and familial integrity and security.
If the community is not created in a win-win mood, it simply will not survive regardless of our sincere efforts. Every single member of that community must have a very good answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” Unless each person has a good reason to contribute to a community in a self-fulfilling manner, the community will not succeed. Indeed, it is the whole point of a community to insure that its members are self-satisfied.
The question next appears, “What is self-satisfaction?” As we have already defined it, a community is meant to insure the basic needs of life. But that is not a complete understanding for one can fulfill one’s basic needs living isolated in a building of flats within an extremely impersonal city. If one has money and some walls for protection, one can survive. It seems that our desire for community has to be more than simple maintenance of our bodies.
Yet, considering the depression that has arrived, if a community could simply create stability and prosperity, or even just guarantee food on the table in an acceptable dwelling, it might be exactly what is needed for many families. I suggest that combining this basic win-win communal cooperative society with the possibilities of a pleasant association amongst mature and stable individuals is the minimal requirement to inspire community development.
Let us now take a look at the economy of the community.