Community is such an overused word, oversaturated with warm connotations of mutual aid and care. But the reality is that community is messy, blurry, not always the safe space we might want it to be. The community I grew up in was very white, conservative, Christian. There were “community values” that people adhered to in theory: family, faith, fidelity. But the community was rife with transgressions, some more acceptable than others. The child molester that was a church elder. The unfaithful wife who taught Sunday school. The lesbian couple that came to every service but was not allowed to formally join the church. As a child mired in this hypocrisy, I yearned for a community that was more clear and open.
Your post was very affirming to me. Thank you. I'm considerably older than you and probably all of your subscribers but, even back in my day, so-called communities were very cliquish and predators came in all genders/sexualities/etc., often wolves in sheep's clothing.
Ever since grade school really I've disliked cliques, anything that excluded people. It is nice to hear my sentiments are shared by others and are still alive and well in the Great Digital Age.
This brought up a memory that I had never analyzed. One of my hobbies involves scooters and small bore motorcycles. The “scene” was vibrant in Philadelphia in the 2000s, and I joined a club. I liked the people, but always felt uncomfortable with the rituals and ceremonies. Another thing that was odd was that new female members never seemed to stick around. Then, I learned that the “president for life” was hitting on these women under the guise of taking them under his wing.
The final straw was a trip down Skyline Drive, which I led. I always like to plan such trips on paper maps and then program them into the gps on my phone. I look for scenic twisty back roads, and people generally like the trips I plan. Well, this president didn’t like the fact that I was leading and he was following. The trip down was filled with passive aggressive moves, but the last straw was being abandoned by the community in western Virginia while I was out with other friends. I like riding alone, but it was the idea.
I quit the community, but remain friends with some of the individuals.
Your essay reminded me of this situation and encouraged me to look at it again. Thanks.
Beautiful work !
I really loved this post. It was thoughtful and intelligent. The truth is there is no such thing as community. There are interests, biases and friendships. What matters is actions not words (though words can be soothing or harmful). All we can do is true to ourselves, be good friends and understand and address our biases.
I can relate to this story. You do your utmost to make a friendship last, and then you get a major disappointment. In the end there are few ones left, certainly at my age. Family the few, are precious.