Defining Community

When you think about community, what comes to mind?  Is is a location?  Is is a group of people living within a proximity sharing common goals or beliefs?  Is is a group of people with a common belief of set of standards?  Community by definition is all of these things. You as an individual belong to multiple communities which you occupy simultaneously.  If you have a religion, you belong to that faith community.   If you live in a neighborhood or apartment complex, you belong to that community.  Your job is by definition a community.  The World is a community, made of multiple smaller communities.

When we think about how our communities make us feel, we should step back and understand that our smaller communities are just a piece of a bigger puzzle.  Another thing to consider is that our actions actually do affect the world we live in.  What and how we do things matters.  Similar to the butterfly effect, which is a real theory, even a small change in our actions can have drastic effects on the outcome of things in a completely different community in the World.

Lets take this to a bigger more modern reality.  Having lived in Africa, I have seen directly what poverty looks like.  I spent such a short time there, I could only see a small glimpse of what poverty truly looks like.  What I do know is that poverty is ugly to someone from a nation that pretends poverty is non-existent.  I have been poor all of my adult life, but I have never felt real poverty.

If we look at how our society views the World it is easy to see how poverty in other nations happen.  We all get angry about corporations moving operations out of our nation to avoid taxes and have lower wages to pay.  What we do not see is that this perpetuates the state of poverty in these nations.  When you are paid so little, you are not much more than a slave.  Corporate slavery is the worst form of slavery.  It is slavery disguised in the mask of freedom.  When you are put in a position to absolutely need a job and given no choice, you no longer have freedom.

Understanding that this type of situation is not only bad for the people in poverty, it is also bad for the people of our country.  By moving off shores, and not being charged tariffs, these corporations avoid putting funds into the country that it benefits from.  It also has no obligation to pay taxes in the countries it opens up production plants in.  Often in these countries they are set up in what they call a free-zone.  This is an area that is not considered to be native soil.  It is owned by the corporation and for all intents and purposes, it has an image of being American or British or whatever country it originated from.  So similar to foreign diplomats, these corporations work within a country with full autonomy.  They keep the labor costs low, and they avoid paying tariffs, which keeps the costs down for us.  This looks great if you want to be blind to the conditions this causes in other countries.

In many countries food is imported from the US and other industrialized countries.  It comes in covered by subsidies and sells for much lower cost than what the native farmer’s can sell their own crops for.  It is a tragedy to see the effects of capitalism running amok.  If we stop for a moment and remember that we are all part of a much larger community.  When we think about the World as a whole, that cheap price no longer leaves a good taste in our mouth.  On top of exploiting the people corporations also exploit the land and natural resources.  They also leave a wake of poison behind.  It is unfortunate that those cheap goods are so sought after and prized, when in reality learning to live within our means under “normal” limitations would enhance the lives of not only ourselves but our brothers and sisters around the World.

I am fascinated by the idea of communal living.  I think this is more about understanding how our actions affect others.  In a communal situation everything you do will either positively or negatively influence the rest of the commune.  This is a small-scale version of the World as a whole.  Maybe these are things that everyone should be taught to consider.  I am not saying everyone will care, but at least they will be aware.


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