WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE AND SUSTAIN AN ETHICAL COMMUNITY? Simply put it takes caring, openness and purposefulness. Any community needs caring since communities are, at heart, about the relationships among the community’s members. When caring is prevalent community members feel the love and appreciation that buoys the spirit, bringing warmth and comfort to all. When caring is not well elicited relationships can become frayed and tentative, and the community’s energy lags.
Openness is important, too, as that is a key element for rejuvenation. Openness manifests itself as readiness to experience the new and different, welcoming of the stranger and curiosity about what lies outside of one’s comfort zone. When openness is strong community members show interest in learning about and experiencing life beyond what is familiar. When openness is limited, the world outside can appear threatening and worrisome, newcomers may be greeted with reservation or suspicion.
And community will not survive without purpose. Purpose is what brings people together in the first place. Purpose is what inspires people to rise above, to struggle for better, to take on challenges. When purposefulness abounds, a “can do” attitude prevails and confidence runs high. When purposefulness wanes, aimlessness and negativity can set in.
What I find particularly inspiring about caring, openness and purposefulness is that these are elements of life that we can do something about and with which we can experience success. Don’t see enough caring around you? Take the first step toward caring for others. With caring one thing very often does lead to another. Wish things were a bit newer, fresher and more interesting? Open the door and go exploring – there’s so much going on that there’s bound to be some interesting stuff out there. And have you kept your passion at bay or lost track of your sense of purpose? Don’t give in to realism. Take a chance on your idealism.
And here’s the thing – the reasons for action far outweigh reasons against acting. I say this because we are basically intelligent, thoughtful and caring people living in a world that is not immediately threatening. We’re not rash, out of control folk who might bust up the place. Probably our biggest hurdle is fear of disappointment – and we can get over that. If we try and fail, so what? It’s not likely that we’ll be drawn and quartered over it. If we fail we can usually dust ourselves off and try again or try something else.
Ironically, this may be a time when not counting on the promise of an afterlife is actually helpful – we don’t have a lot of time to lose and so ought to have a good sense of urgency, And if things go badly, life is short and our suffering will be time limited – and, besides that, our contributions can really make a difference in our lifetime and in the lifetimes of those who’ll come after us.
Before you are numerous opportunities to create the community you would like to be a part of—opportunities for caring, openness and purposefulness. Bring your passion, your skill and your dreams and let’s work together to build – and savor – an ethical community.