The way I title this, does not reflect so much on a group of friends so much as a group of people. A group of people literally scattered as if by the Biblical Tower of Babel, to the far reaches of Earth.
Stonehenge is one of the oldest momunents to commumity and unity in the world. Shrouded in symbolism and history, before the dawn of writing, Stonhenge provided a link to our past, which is so far distant from our present, that we will study it for many years to come, in order to find out the extent of this community’s unity, purpose, and….perhaps why they are no more….
One can have a sense of community right here on Redbubble. A powerful sense of friendship and affection exists here. As I contemplated who this might be about, and the profound feeling of thanks I have for what I have experienced in the 11 months I’ve been a member, several things, several ideas, and an overarching principle began to take shape in my mind. There are patterns of principles which stay true through out the history of man, and those which come and go, based on the applicability to a time, space and culture.
Community is an enduring idea, from which several branches of philosophy have sprung, including schools of governing, organizational togetherness, symbology, language, and lines of thinking, even cultural cohesivity. There is a bedrock of commonality throughout the history of all mankind, which provided the impetus and framework for community for thousands of years. It could be slavery, or the advancement of civilization, two opposites, which demonstrate the importance of the idea of unity in community, if not the ubiquity of either idea, or any between those two extremes. Community is, if dissected to its base components, a unity of perspective, thought, and purpose, between two or more individuals….most likely, in a larger group, as the two individuals, perhaps long ago in history, sold the ideas they had to others, who nodded in agreement and joined minds.
And that is the premise of what I am going to present today. The internet, is a vast diverse, and humanly enormous community. But even though the feeling is strong between members of various Internet communities, it is not what I am driving toward or proposing. And there are now thousands of them. People who would love to live near each other, spend time together and enjoy the presence of each other. Internet communities have largely replaced the physical communities of our towns and neighborhoods. And that is the community I want to address.
I recently had the extreme privilege of an extended trip to Lisbon, Portugal and then on to Newbury England. What I learned, observed and participated in, brought to my scope of learning, a principle that I shall not forget. The people who taught me about this, were perhaps not seeing themselves at teachers, for we all enjoyed other activities, such as parties, photography, laughter, and even tears. But the deeper sense of fellowship I enjoyed, came as a further blessing, that spun off the original intent of my visit. That was merely to meet the people who have enriched my life over the last year or two, and to get training, in England on some specialized equipment. But to a mind that constantly inquires, is never satisfied with the learning I have, I was and am in perpetual and sometimes agonizing pursuit of knowledge.
Community. There is a general disintegration throughout the world, of a SENSE of community in our neighborhoods, towns and cities, which is gradually pulling us apart as a world of people, most of whom have the same or very similar goals. Improving life for our families. There is more, depending on the strata of life you work and play in, and the mind that you posses to drive your thoughts. Each of us longs for communication, further than the keyboards we use to type emails. But the indescribable friendships that develop between members of this world community, are only possible because the souls of the people long for more than a lifetime of internet chat. A handshake, a hug, kisses to the cheeks. Meals together, face to face conversation, laughter in dining rooms, time spent looking at photographs together. This is the stuff of not only friendship, but community.
I sat down over eight weeks ago, with two friends from Newbury, at a local pub, over a Shandy. The conversation that ensued, showed me the trend that I observed in the two cities I traveled through.
Pubs in England have existed for hundreds of years. Used to be, they were for men only. The rise and fall of economic times, the passage of life, politics, and work, all flowed through the pubs. Men would gather there, across the English Commonwealth, to discuss and partake. About a generation ago…a change took place that nearly destroyed the central meeting place of these men. The economy took such a down turn, that pubs which had been open since the 1500’s, were starting to close. What the towns and villages around them did, to bring on a change, to revive that ancient system of gathering, was to open the pub to the families. What this meant, was that the former men only gatherings were now open to children and wives as well.
I watched for 3 and a half weeks, through many visits to pubs all over the area around Newbury, of the interaction between people of all ages, young to old, women to men, families with each other. What I observed, made a profound impression on me. The policy of opening a pub to the family unit, drew the community, the villages, the towns, the cities, together. The neighborhood was gathering.
I noticed the same phenomena in Lisbon, London, and it appears to be happening in other European cities as well…each with its own cultural version of community. Lunch meetings, regular assembly of local organizations around food and idea exchange.
A sense of community is a powerful way to bring support to the individuals of that neighborhood. In a very real and palpable sense, it is a philosophical watershed. Whatever the group that homogenizes around a table, a meal, a common interest or panoply of symbols, community is a return to the ancient idea that people together, means that a village, an organization, a town, will stick together. Cohesive in friendship and philosophy.
A sense of community is a powerful weapon of unity to a town. It brings many types of strength to that geographical location. Emotional, mental, political, physical. There is a power in unity that cannot be gained in any other way….
As I compare what I observe here in the US, to the communities surrounding Lisbon, Newbury, I hope that more people throughout the world begin to think about community as a WAY OF LIFE. Perhaps the paradigm has forever changed and we are bound by love and friendship through the internet. I have deep friendships through this medium. However, there is no substitute for a shared walk down a street, conversation across a supper table. No….community has taken on many wonderful forms, but let us not forget the groups that are around us…my neighbor, Otis, our new widow, and old, old friend Betty down the street, Orlando next door….a group of songwriters and poets here in Fort Worth.
This site teaches us much about God, philosophy, friendship, love, and each other. Let us not forget the community in our towns. If we are to make positive change in our world, and I guarantee change comes, whether you like it or not, our proactive stance, our personal philosophy must be to effect change that will grow our communities, not disintegrate them. We must come together, to promote a world of peace, my dear friends.
It starts with you and me…..
If we were to lose websites and internet, would we lose our world?
Each of us longs for communication, further than the keyboards we use to type emails.