When dialogues devolve into collective monologues
do we miss out on our shared identity?
We hear, see, experience, and read about divisiveness. Common ground seems difficult to reach with the shouting voices, pointing fingers, and mean-spirited attacks. Fear, disgust, and/or mistrust carry the day. A lot of “us, good” and “them, bad” thinking. When dialogues devolve into collective monologues do we miss out on our shared identity?
If you had the opportunity to facilitate a conversation about community, where would you begin? You may want to start with defining community—what it conjures up in the imagination.
Last week, I posted three questions on social media.
#1. What does community mean to you (personally, professionally)?
#2. If you had to name ONE action that FOSTERS community, what comes to mind?
#3. If you had to name ONE action that HINDERS or even destroys community
building, what comes to mind?
Definitions of “community” included the concepts of inclusion, respect, a sense of caring, respectful relationships, support, belonging, network, care, concern, support, encouragement, familiarity, ties, like-minded people, and commonality.
A community, in other words, cooperates, shares, and helps its members grow. And we can belong to a number of different communities personally and professionally.
My social media friends shared that we can build community in many situations: on the front porch, in the workplace, at a place of worship, and around the neighborhood. Communities, they shared, can benefit when their members gather in specific locations, participate, act with selflessness, build trust, and openly communicate.
A recent Forbes.com article states that leaders who want to address divisiveness (and build community) might do well to focus on shared values.
Factors that hinder or destroy community, according to my informal social media poll, include exclusion, cliques, time demands, architectural designs, conflict, competing goals, divisiveness, selfishness, hate, and closing one’s mind to the ideas of others.
The image of silos comes to mind. They exist on campuses and in the corporate setting. When silos of separation become entrenched, it becomes harder to construct bridges of collaboration.
In short, community is about cooperation, inclusion, and support. And it includes like-minded people.
But that brought a bit of cognitive imbalance for me: Can a community be inclusive and at the same time like-minded?
If I surround myself with a community of people who believe as I do (politically, socially, nutritionally, economically, socially, or religiously) can it be inclusive? Or do we, within a community segregate ourselves into smaller like-minded groupings? Perhaps we need to define inclusive? Is inclusiveness an idealized goal that cannot be reached? Same for seeking a diverse community. Saying we are inclusive and diverse and living it can be two different sides of the coin.
For me, community means an emotional commitment to a group of people. It can be a physical location or it can be virtual. Something binds the group.
As one of the respondents to my social media conversation stated,
“Community is a word I think a lot about. I grew up in a ‘neighborhood.’
I knew every one of my neighbors. Today I live in a gated ‘community.’
I know nearly no one. Community has to be more than a marketing term.
It’s an expression of true care and concern for others. Actions and deeds.
Not words or labels.
What does community mean to you? Does it conjure up a definition? Or does it bring about a feeling? Does it exist as a concept any longer? Or does the traditional concept need a transformation to reflect where we are now, and more importantly, what the future holds. Do your communities consist of like-minded people and do they demonstrate an inclusive nature?
Recommended Video for the Week: A thought-provoking short TED Talk about inclusion, exclusion, and a few strategies on how to encourage participation.
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.