Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Our Communities, Our Selves

Preamble: I am involved with a local blog writing group made up of Twitter friends. Each month we write on a specific topic. This month's chosen topic is community.

When I first started contemplating this blog topic, I thought about what my fellow bloggers may write. Perhaps I am being presumptuous, but I expect a lot of the following: "I am a member of [religion/culture] and my community here in Edmonton has been so [wonderful/accepting/supportive/etc.]. I am so glad to be a part of the [religion/culture] community here. All hail my [religion/culture].

For me, it is not so simple. I walk between many worlds. As a result, community to me has many meanings.

Community can be contradictory.
Sometimes one's beliefs can run contrary to the dominant paradigm of one's presumed community. I am Jewish, but my open criticism of the State of Israel and support for Palestinian rights automatically puts me on the outside. As well, my political and theological leanings (which I won't get into here) also sets me apart from pretty much every major Jewish denomination for one reason or another. At the same time, we have to have the strength and courage to stand up for our beliefs, even when they fly in the faces of our communities. Just because you grew up being taught something, just because it seems like everyone else around you believes that thing, doesn't mean it is right - and especially, it does not mean it is right for you. I even wrote a song about it, called "Walls".

Community can be based on who you are and who you choose to be.
I wasn't born an activist. I became one through my own explorations of the world and current events. As a result, I am part of the local activist community. While most of us are part of communities based on aspects of ourselves beyond our control (such as our ethnic group), we also become a part of communities based on our life choices.

Community can be inherited and adopted.
This is very much in relation to my point above. I'm part of the Jewish community because I am Jewish. I was born Jewish. I'm part of a neighbourhood where I live, by virtue of the fact that I, well, live there (duh). At the same time, I am deeply involved in the McCauley and Boyle Street neighbourhoods because that is where my work and passion lie. Although I do not live there, I am adopted as part of the community. I wrote about this at length in April of 2010 in a blog post entitled "Defining Community", so I'll leave it at that rather than repeat myself. My views are pretty much the same now as then.

Community can remain static, or it can change with life choices.
Remember what I said above about living in one place, but working in another? Perhaps one day I will move. Some people convert to other religions. I know people who have jumped in head first into political or social activities. Our communities change as we do. Likely in our lifetimes, we will have some communities in which we stay and others into which we grow.

So that pretty much sums up my take on community. I'll be posting the links to my fellow blog group members' work as they become available.

Related Posts:
My lifelong community by @TamaraStecyk
Creating Community Throught My Feet by @Joanna_Farley
Blog Group Topic #3: Community by @lindork

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