What is a community? If you go by today’s definition, it’s the people in your town, people you live near, most you may not even know. I prefer the old idea of community. To me, it is the people you share life with, the family you choose. Think about the people in your life that you treat like family, sometimes they mean even more to you than your blood relatives. How do these ties enrich our lives? And why do most people not even have people like this in their lives?
Many would say technology has made the world smaller and connected more people to their communities. And in a way it has. But in a way, it has also created more isolation. People don’t have get-togethers anymore without having a few guests being distracted by an electronic device. My article about what happened when we gave up our smartphone service talks about this. More and more people spend time on computers at home than going out and interacting with others in real-time. Don’t get me wrong I still use my technology, but I don’t let it get in the way of real-life experiences.
Years ago it was very common for neighbors to be close friends, it’s not as common today. Why is that? Some would say it’s because of the huge amount of news and information we are subjected to on a daily basis. The nightly news is filled with so much negativity, it’s no wonder we just want to hide away from the world. I believe it has caused us to not be as trusting as back in the time when those types of stories were rare and seemed to only happen in big cities. People have become more jaded and in many cases, it might be justified. So how do we change it?
Love Thy Neighbor
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” -Mathew 22:34-40
The reason we should reach out to our fellow-man is written right there in the Bible. Very few people will ask for help when they truly need it. Imagine if we all lived by this commandment, the evil we see in the world today would be unheard of. When I think about all the friendships I’ve made in my life, I can say that many of them were created by an act of kindness. Whether it was something I did or my friend may have done. Think of all the friendships you’ve made in your life, I bet you can pinpoint the beginning of those relationships to one or more acts of kindness.
The Benefits of Chosen Family
When it comes to friends I have always been a firm believer in quality over quantity. I will always be happier with a handful of really close friends over a hundred acquaintances any day. One of the main reasons is that I have social anxiety, yup me, miss motor mouth. I am more comfortable with a small group of people who know that when I say stupid things, I absolutely didn’t do it with malicious intent. Plus, I don’t know about you but I would rather spend time with people who know my heart.
Aaron and I have a little community of people that we consider family. We may not be blood, but our lives will always be tied together. In our little group, there is a system of give and take. There is no score keeping, we support each other. Whenever someone needs help, the others are always there, whatever it may be. One week our brother needed help rebuilding his bathroom, so Aaron, of course, went over and helped. A few weeks later Aaron needed help moving something, and our brother came down and loaned his truck. This week we needed help moving a freezer, and our friend offered to move it with his trailer. Next week Aaron will be helping that friend re-do his kitchen walls. This is my idea of community.
We have shared harvests, had amazing meals, gone fishing together, laughed long into the night, shared frustrations and disappointments, and have been a reassuring shoulder when some needed to cry. We share the common belief of love thy neighbor.
Return to Tradition
I will always be grateful for the family I have chosen. They make me a better person. Together we strengthen our bigger community at large by being an example to others. The days of helping your neighbor mow their lawn, having a backyard barbecue, or helping with a home renovation I believe is making a comeback. But we need to do as Jesus said and “love thy neighbor”. The next time you see your older neighbor struggling to weed her garden, or the guy two doors down trying to rebuild his porch alone, or a new couple moving in; reach out to them, lend a hand. You may find out you have a lot in common and an act of kindness turns into the beginning of a life-long friendship.