Today is Grandparents’ Day at the kids’ school. It’s a great experience for all involved. The kids get to show off their school and friends. The grandparents get to spend time with their grandchildren and see them in their own environment. The parents aren’t actually involved which is a nice break. And the school gets a chance to continue strengthening its community.
But as the kids and grandparents headed off today, I started thinking more and more about the idea of community and its importance in society. This is especially evident in light of the protests going on in North Carolina over the past few days.
What is a Community?
A community is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Communities take multiple forms including schools, companies, churches, families, teams, political parties, and many others. You can belong to one community or many. Some communities can be more recreational in nature (i.e., fans of the card game Magic the Gathering) while others may be driven by a common goal of fighting against social injustice.
And while there are people who prefer to maintain a solitary existence, for most of us, being part of a community is important. We’ve all heard the expression, “there is strength in numbers.” As a member of a community, you feel stronger than you are individually. You have people you can count on and people who count on you.
But there can be a downside to communities as well.
Take Time to Understand
When I read through my Facebook news feed, I am shocked at the tone and demeaning nature of the comments my “friends” make toward people who do not agree with them. Many of these people I have known for most of my life. They are people I interact with on a regular basis.
In person, they are friendly and cooperative. But once they go online, their entire personality shifts. They are quick to judge. Their words condemn people with differing views. They feel empowered through the community of others.
My suggestion is that rather than throwing gas on an already burning fire, stop and think about what you can say or do to improve the situation. Rather than taking a side, try to understand why someone believes something different than you.
Use your community to make the world a better place not to tear it down.
Readers, do you belong to a community? Are you using that community to improve your life and the lives of others?
The Green Swan says
Living in Charlotte and experiencing first hand the effects of a broken community right now, I can certainly speak to the benefits of establishing and maintaining a strong and supportive community!
Thanks for the post and positive reminder! Hope the grandparents and kids had a blast!View Comment
Financial Slacker says
Charlotte has certainly had more than its share of controversy involving social issues over the past few months. I hope the city can figure out a way to heal itself.
There’s an odd situation happening here that hasn’t received much national attention. There are two trials in process. One is for an individual being tried for shooting and killing a police officer. At the same time, two police officers are on trial for shooting and killing a homeless man.
Thanks for sharing.View Comment
Dividends Down Under says
That’s awesome that your school has a grandparent’s day – I wish my school had done that.
People feel liberated on the internet and ‘braver’. And with Facebook allows confirmation bias by following only they believe in.
Financial Slacker says
I do think it’s a natural tendency to be more confrontational when posting online. But I have found that when writing on this site, I am more reserved in my comments. I feel a greater level of accountability here than when I post something on Twitter or Facebook.View Comment
In life, we are very likely to be part of different communities. The online FIRE community is one where we belong in. I like it. It brings ideas, it makes me think through my life plan, it makes me talk and discuss more with my wife about money. Reading some comments on my blog, I am happy to help also others. I would like to make this virtual community more real by attending and organizing meetups.
In the physical world, my work is one community, the neighborhood a second and the school a third one. In each, I try to improve myself and others.
In all communities, having respect for others and their opinions is key. Being able to disagree is a key skill to manage. It does not help to be rude, or very offensive.View Comment
Financial Slacker says
Those are great communities.
One year ago, I didn’t even realize the FIRE community existed. Now I feel connected to people all around the world that I can reach out to any time. I must say that I have been missing not having a work community. But I’m working on changing that.View Comment