I was given cause recently to reflect on the meaning of “community.” What is community? Most people would reflexively answer that it is where you live, your locality, and that would not be entirely incorrect. But, what is a community really? Must you have a home in your community? Can you be in more than one community at once? Is it possible for some communities be warm and supportive, while other communities remain cold and unforgiving?
Merriam-Webster defines community as “a unified body of individuals.” But that is just the start, because it adds “Such as:” followed by a plethora of possibilities for the meaning of community. A community could be “the people with common interests living in a particular area broadly,” or it could be “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society. Another possibility is “a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society.” Still more possibilities are “a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests,” or “a group linked by a common policy.” A community could be “an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (such as species) in a common location.”
Our questions have been answered, but is there any significance to those answers? Where we live is most definitely our community, but if personal or professional interests are held in common with others, we belong to that community as well. We could belong to a community even if they live far away and scattered, such as an online community. It is even possible to leave communities and join others, if we so chose.
My recent reflection though, focused on the cold and unforgiving vs. the warm and supportive. I was a member of a community for 27 years that told me they were warm and supportive at every opportunity. They were not. That particular community turned out to be cold and unforgiving, and had always been of that character. The realization came as soon as I uttered a word against the accepted narrative. Word to the wise: If someone has to tell you what they are, it probably isn’t true.
I kind of knew the community was cold and unforgiving, but I chose to ignore it. Why? Because I felt I was stuck there for a set number of years. Naturally, I would be in and out of other communities that were based on interests, as we all tend to. But, the cold and unforgiving community (with a few exceptions) remained prevalent because it was my profession, where I spent most of my time. The profession was public education in California, which became unsafe for me once I publicly stood up against the Trans/CRT/DEI activism (and Covid policies before that) in the public schools, thus forcing an early retirement.
So, I was ostracized from my community, by the very people I spent nearly three decades with, for not agreeing with them. For telling them that they lived in an echo chamber that reinforced their predilections and were probably suffering from cognitive dissonance. But then an amazing thing happened, a new community, one that had coalesced around the brave, courageous, free and critical thinkers that also spoke out, celebrated my ostracizing.
My new community threw me a party, complete with a band and the most amazing cake. It was a surprise to me… I may have teared up a bit. Okay, I did tear up. I realized how much my new community cared. I also realized that the community was bigger, much bigger, than those present at the celebration. Space was limited, people had other commitments, and all the other usual limitations.
What really floored me however, was when I realized just how big, loving, and supportive my new community is. I received the nicest letter from a Mom’s For Liberty chapter in, wait for it, Pennsylvania. Keep in mind, I am the furthest thing from a social influencer you’ve ever seen. Sure, I have social media, but my largest following is on Truth Social where I have *checks notes* 90 followers. It isn’t like I’m famous or well known. My words on social media mostly find their way to the internet void, just kind of floating around in digital land.
The letter from Cumberland County, PA, somewhere I have never been to, from someone I never, met was full of encouraging words. Such as, courage being contagious and that when others in education reach their time “to be challenged on their beliefs” that I had set an example for them to follow. The letter recognized that the Nation needs more teachers to “hold the line to stop indoctrination,” and that “the road is not for the faintest of hearts.” “Standing up for what is right, just, and truth” is rarely easy, and never as easy as parroting the narrative. Boy, that’s true.
After reading that letter I realized just how large my new community was. But more importantly, I realized that had I not overcome my fear of being canceled and stood up to begin with, I would not have found them. In other words, we will never find that community that we deserve and need unless we get off our butts and do what we know is to be right and true. Community will provide us with love and support, but also with an outlet to return the same–which will really recharge your human spirit. Giving really is better than receiving.
Now, if you haven’t already, go find your community, they need you.