In Community is where we grow best. This beautiful card came (artist’s name unsigned) from my Sufi family in the country. Just the three of us can be a community–papa, mommy, and baby–but a larger community is possible. One of the biggest trade-offs when deciding to live in a big city is the loss of a larger community structure that usually exists in an organic way in smaller, rural communities. That doesn’t mean however that you can’t find an authentic experience of community in a big city; it does mean that you need to play an active, conscious role in creating the strands of that community. All of the modern conveniences and capabilities that technology affords us (such as this blog), allow us to be outwardly independent, to travel great distances very easily, and pretty much to chart our own courses in life. The cost of these apparent freedoms is loss of blood-family ties and loss of community–which can leave us inwardly more needy and insecure. So building real and lasting ties with folks in our cities becomes much more crucial than being merely a pretty thought, it is as much a necessity as food and water and shelter. It is our real social currency, not the currency of trends, fashion, gossip, and posturing.
A community where Isa can learn that violence is not ok whether it appears in its seductive forms all throughout pop culture or whether it masquerades as dire political necessity in the hands of men who profit in all the blood they spill. I want Isa to see strong men being able to take criticism and change their minds (I, too, hope to be strong, able to take criticism and change my mind). I want Isa to see through the veneer of culture that shields us from our most raw and primal experiences, and also to have compassion for our need to take refuge in many things we may also dislike. I want a real, thriving community that Isa can learn from in the context of friendships and partnerships rather than through discreet, anonymous social transactions (which is the way of the city). I want him to be lifted up in the arms of people I know and love. In community.