I was walking in our town one day recently and, with it being winter, there are fewer animals around right now. I was walking past some houses and saw something move out of the corner of my eye and looked to see a sizable hawk with some prey in its claws. The hawk was sitting on the railing of someone’s deck, holding down its small prey, carefully balancing itself against the wind, since it was a gusty day. I stood and watched the hawk eating because I was curious about what kind of animal it had managed to catch.
I thought it might be some small rodent, in fact I hoped it. We like to think that if something has to die, it might at well be something we consider as a pest. I was a few yards away, so things weren’t as clear as I wished, but I didn’t move closer for fear that the hawk would fly away and I wouldn’t get to see what it was eating. After a few minutes of it tearing at the small animal with its beak, I noticed that the hawk was pulling out the animal’s feathers to get to the meat. As the small light-colored feathers fell much like snow onto the ground, I felt surprised and a little sad that the hawk was eating another bird. One of its own kind. As I began to walk back home, I considered my sadness and wondered why I felt sad? This was just nature, right?
It made me think about community and how we crave it. We desire to meet up and spend time with like-minded people so we sacrifice our time and sometimes money to be a part of a group or organization. But many times within those groups, we end up, consciously or not, looking for ways to tear those other people down. Or trying to find ways to make ourselves look better than the other people in the group. Competition is a huge driving force in nature. Many times, communities break down and fail due to individuals being unwilling to set aside that primal thing called ego and work for the greater good. Of course, in nature there are the groups that are blood relatives that stick together and take actions based on what would be better for the survival of the group, but those in the group didn’t necessarily choose to be born into that group. I’m just considering groups of unrelated people, like social, religious, and groups related to specific interests.
The best kind of community, a truly loving, encouraging, lift-others-up and diverse kind is very hard to begin and maintain because it doesn’t exist in nature. And going against nature is a very challenging thing to do. Look at all the families who had a “surprise” baby. Look at all the people who don’t want children and have to deal with the challenges that come along with the hormone fluctuations every single month, not to mention pressures from other people in their lives. Look at churches and religious organizations that are struggling to maintain active membership. Look at all the groups and organizations that spend so much time, effort and money on outreach.
I don’t have any suggestions or thoughts right now on how to build and maintain communities. I don’t have anything else to offer at this moment other than this.
Good community is hard to find because it’s a bird eat bird world out here.