The definition of a “community” is typically a group of people who live in the same area and interact with each other. The modern world has extended that definition to include electronic communities such as the social media worlds of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat among others. Within communities there are sub-communities. Here in Rockaway there are many sub-communities.
The Rockaway community-at-large extends from the most eastern tip of the peninsula all the way to the most western tip and is bound by sea and bay. Some of the more prominent communities are the business communities that make up the local merchants that serve us all. Other communities include the various yoga groups, the music community, and the sports communities; of course each school and church has its own communities, too. I think that these communities share many common traits; such as they provide support to their members. I say, "members," but in most cases there is no formal membership for these communities, people are simply bound to each other by some common cause or activity. But they share a sense of belonging, a sense of camaraderie, and a sense of togetherness that comes with being in a group. The members are caring and supportive, and give positive re-enforcement for forward progress both individually and collectively.
I certainly see that within the circles that I move in. I see it on Tuesday nights at Connolly’s when musicians try new material knowing that other musicians are listening. There is a sense of courage for stepping outside the comfort zone, but also a sense that the community will be supportive, because they understand what it’s like to be out in the deep end of the pool. I see it with the yoga community, as that group looks to deepen their practice, knowing that not everyone is double-jointed, and providing helpful guidance to reach the calmness that yoga brings.
When my kids were younger I saw it within the various sports teams here on the peninsula. Not everyone has the talent to be a successful athlete, but that seldom mattered, because the focus was teaching sportsmanship and fostering teamwork, rather than winning at all costs.
In mature communities, the sub-groups cross lines all the time. In open communities this cross-pollination can lead to wonderful creative collaborations. We probably all remember as kids competing with neighboring parishes or teams. Sometimes those rivalries could be heated. But as we grew up, we crossed lines into those neighborhoods, and realized the other guys weren’t so bad after all, and in some cases formed teams across neighborhoods.
It would be great if we could be as open all the time and not keep to only the communities that we formed; and close to new members and other groups. That would truly be a world to aspire to, to be open and collaborative. And it’s the type of hope that we sometimes get from great leaders, who remind us that we all belong to the same community: the human race. Let’s celebrate our communities!