Over the past several weeks, I have been writing about the seven values that make up my personal code. Today I’m going to talk about what the seventh value, community, means to me. The various crises facing humanity today (COVID-19, systemic racism, war, the climate crisis) are all man-made, and are all the effects of an unhealthy form of individualism that has turned its back on the true meaning of community: that we are all connected, that we are interdependent.
As is often the case, Martin Luther King, Jr, said it best: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a part of our lives for over a year now. One of the most obvious impacts of this pandemic on our daily lives is the interruption of our sense of connection with other people. In extreme cases, people we love have died. In less extreme cases, we have had to endure long periods of isolation or separation from loved ones. In either case, this time in history has given us much to contemplate about our relationships: to each other, with ourselves, and with the planet and life itself.
Self-awareness, the mixed blessing inherent to human existence, already has the tendency to make us feel unbearably alone and separate from each other. So it may seem ironic, then, that it’s at this same time in history, in which people are made to feel their separation even more acutely, that certain of us contract even further into an individualistic mindset that could actually be making the situation worse.
Sheleana Aiyana, founder of Rising Woman, adds some insight to this apparent paradox: “Ultra-independence is a trauma response.” You see, human beings are social creatures. Love is so much a part of who we are that when it is blocked, great pain can result. Sometimes this pain is so great that it causes us to disidentify with the need for connection entirely. It’s easier to say you don’t need anyone than to bear the pain of separation.
Community is the crucial link between personal growth work and social change. What I alone choose to do about the environment will likely have very little impact on climate change. But if I leverage the power of community, the possibilities are endless. What keeps us from seeing this is the comparative lack of healthy and vibrant communities in the world today. Not only does this prevent us from seeing what healthy communities can create, but it causes us to believe that health at the community level isn’t even possible, let alone worth pursuing. That would be a mistake.
To learn more about the connection between personal growth work and social change, sign up for my 6-week course “Befriend the Change,” starting next week!
Upcoming Course – Thursdays, 12-1pm PST, May 6 – June 10, 2021: “Befriend the Change – A 6-week course uncovering the connection between personal work and social change”
Are you distressed by all the division and conflict that exists between people today? Do you find yourself avoiding “touchy subjects” like COVID, systemic racism, and climate change with certain family members or friends? Does all this leave you feeling hopeless for humanity’s future? On May 1, 1992, Rodney King asked, “Can we all get along?” Today, 29 years later, it seems like the answer is no. But what if the solution to humanity’s problems were actually simpler than you thought? On May 6, 2021, join us for a six-week online course on how personal growth and healthy relationship skills can save the world. Befriend the Change. Click here for more info.
Nauser Bear is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California (LMFT#123099; licensed with the BBS as Nicholas Jon Reynolds). To work with Nauser, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call (510) 394-5373, or schedule a free 20-minute consultation by clicking here.
Disclaimer: This blog and comments on it do not constitute medical or mental health advice. If you are in need of support and live in California, contact me to set up a consult to see if working together is a fit. Otherwise, seek mental health support in your area. If you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention hotline, which is available 24/7, at 800-273-8255.