By Z.S. Roe
In life, community matters a great deal. To form a community, however, people need a common bond—something that ties them together. In centuries gone by, commonalities were easy to find. Merely to live you needed to interact and come to know those within your neighbourhood, town, or city; you, in fact, grew to depend on those around you for food, shelter, clothing, and so on. Simply put, there was no easy way to get by without a community to draw upon.
But the world has changed since then, and quite a lot, too. Many of us don’t work in the same city where we live; we often buy our food in mega grocery stores and use self-checkout lanes instead of traditional cashier-based lanes; because we have easy access to transportation, many of our family and friends live far away from us. And all of this makes forming a tight-knit community all the more difficult.
Still, as often is the case, many of us have made do. These days, we usually form communities around shared common interests or beliefs, such as church communities, sports communities, and so on.
I, however, have never been one of these people who easily fit into a community. To some extent, the onus for that lies largely with me. As the saying goes, I’ve made my bed and now must lay in it. And while I don’t regret my past, I do sometimes resent it.
You see, I was raised in a Protestant family, and spent much of my childhood in the company of one or more church groups. Trouble was, I was never an especially spiritual (nor religious) person; I tried for a while, but it was never a good fit for me. Because I (wrongly) self-identified as a Protestant, though, I also didn’t fit in with secular groups.
As a teen, I dipped my foot into the punk rawk scene, but eventually gave that up, too (it was a scene made especially for those without a proper community, but it was also a scene—as far as I saw—replete with self-righteous asses).
As I grew into a young adult, I found myself less inclined to try new groups, scenes, or movements. I did my own thing, and let life take me wherever it wanted. Nevertheless, on several occasions I was reminded that there were still other communities I would likely never be a part of. I didn’t (and still don’t) drink alcohol, and this fact has garnered many strange reactions from friends and colleagues alike, including surprise and even anger. I also don’t watch or care for sports, which has sometimes been quite the marvel to other men that I know. As you might surmise, being a glass worker in an industry filled with men who like sports and like to drink even more, I’m something of an oddity.
These days, I spend most of my free time reading or writing, which are both solitary activities, and not especially useful for finding the right community for me. To some, my life is a lonely one, but it’s still one that I treasure.
With all that said, however, I do sometimes long for more. I suspect that we all do … to some extent, anyway. More recently, I’ve found myself worrying about my future children, and the impact my solitary pursuits will have on them.
I have no solutions, and to conclude as such would be a particularly unsatisfying way to leave things.
And so, with that in mind, I leave it to you—one reader among many in this odd, electronic online community. How important is community in today’s world? And how might the folk on the fringe find their way in?
Perhaps you’ll do better than me.
I hope so.
Opinion is a bi-monthly column of just that, my opinion. While opinions are like noses and everyone has one, mine are especially snotty. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.