“On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers.” ~Adlai E. Stevenson
December 7 – CommunityTransitioning from the naturally communal Kenyan environment to the every-man-for-himself mentality of the United States is a bitch. I know. I’ve done it. Most people think I have done it very well which is glaringly inaccurate. Everything is fine on the surface. One would have to get closer and look deeper to realize that I struggle with community here because it is nothing like community there.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris) [The #reverb10 project.]
The following excerpt hails from a rather autobiographical prior post titled ‘Origins’:
I was raised by my adopted parents, yes, but I was also raised by two distinctly different villages.
The first was the missionary village. It seemed to be an unwritten rule to collectively keep an eye on all the children. Subsequently, I have been disciplined by almost all of my missionary “aunts” and “uncles” just as my parents have done their share of parenting my friends. It was a system that worked and my missionary family was (and is) closer to me than most extended family here in the United States.
The second village in which I was raised was comprised of those who were hired to work at Brackenhurst, the conference center where I grew up, and their families. Considered to be the “staff quarters” by most, this was still an area that had all the elements of a traditional village: the wazee (elders) would sit and smoke and watch over the village, the women would cook in the open air and half the young children ran around naked while being minded by older siblings. As I have previously referred to this place as My Childhood Domain, it should come as no surprise that I spent much of my free time here… playing made up games with the children of this village or drinking chai and eating the ugali (cornmeal and water cooked until stiff) that was offered. They too were my extended family.
I have yet to find anything here that carries with it even a smidgen of resemblance to those experiences. Am I seeking too much? Why is it so bloody difficult for people in Western cultures to connect with one another on a more than “Hi! How are you?” level?
The notable exception? You. (Cliché. Predictable. Whatever. Shaddup!)
If you are reading this than you are likely involved in social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) or blogging. It is you who has become my community. I think such connections are possible because, in essence, we are all here looking for each other. We want the same thing. That doesn’t mean we don’t have close connections in our unplugged lives but there is also nothing wrong with seeking out more. Like any
I stopped defending the relationships I have forged online a long, long time ago. I don’t feel the need. True community doesn’t need defending. And, who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be able to sit in a village in Kenya with a few of you… sharing stories, drinking chai and remote tweeting or blogging the experience.