This morning I dipped into to Twitter and ran across a request for help. A friend is looking for long form essays addressing justice from all possible angles – environmental, racial, gender, medical, etc. Rare but true, an article pops into mind. One I read in a magazine within the last year – environmental justice-related, lawsuits and small town activists. That’s what remembered. I put down my phone pretty quickly to go in search of the back issues of this magazine. I look through two rooms before I finally find the stash. Then I flip through 6 or 7 issues before I find the article I’m looking for. I go online, find a link, forward it to this friend.
Not a big deal. A pleasure, actually. An opportunity to offer help, to find a way to apply some of that extra reading. Began writing a thread, though, that got me to consider the why behind that series of actions. My answer turned out to be community. The thread concludes with “Belonging matters. A lot.” In my short reflection I recognized that the more I share, the more generous I become. I have gotten into the habit of offering, asking for and accepting help in my online communities. These habits further enable me to demonstrate the same behaviors in my local context. If I derive a great deal of value from my online engagements then it is fueled in no small part by my willingness to contribute to the greater good.
Sometimes I think fear of this idea gets in people’s way. They are afraid of not having anything worthwhile to share. Afraid of being found lacking according to someone else’s expectations. It happens often that we discount our worthiness before we dare to engage. The true value of community lies in creating spaces which place faith in the worthiness of all members while also providing the resources that encourage growth and healthy learning/unlearning. It’s not magic that makes a community sustainable. It’s people offering their best selves – their ideas, visions, resources, capabilities, and generosity – to respond to need.