Friday, September 23, 2011

Creating communities....

Waiting in the passport office for more than 6 hours for some information on my son's passport, after almost a year after sending in the application, was an excellent lesson on community.

I was sitting at the beginning of a long line (we had seats to sit down!) and I was asked to sit there till the file would come down from another office else where. So from 10.00 AM to 2.00 PM, (after 2 hours of waiting outside)  many came behind me, got into the office room, met the officer and went off. I kept waiting till finally the file came up.

Over these 4 hours, communities were created and broken. Some lasted for a few minutes some for a few hours, but none lasted beyond the time we were there.

As people waited for the Officer to come in, started sharing on how long they have been waiting for the passport, some for 3 months, some 4 and others 6 months (I had the privilege of waiting the longest - One year and one month) and a sense of community emerged. There was "empathy" for each other, listening to each others stories, and of course enough of advise being given. There were sharing of pens, glue sticks, stapling machines etc. There was also coming together to oust some one who will break the Que, and allowing elderly or challenged people to cut the Que.

There was a time when community was "broken" too - when a group got together and found fault with another group whom they thought were trying to barge in ahead of them,. but this was immediately sorted out....all were keen to restore peace and get the work done and get out....and the community broke once his or her work was done!

A "common purpose", common "pain" and "sharing of the pain" time in hand, to talk about the same, all were starting points for the community creation. And all this happened "unintentionally". And the common bond which kept us together was "individual's needs, but common to all! And the community broke when one person need was fulfilled and or one person tried to break the "rules" of the community. The breaking was "intentional" by an intentional act of one or few people!

Much to learn from this - as community creators - (The purpose of the Kingdom of God) communities form "unintentionally" if there is a common purpose, common pain and sharing of pain! But this will not be sustained, unless there is a purpose beyond my own "need" - a need and a purpose which is beyond my life and plans, a common purpose, but one which binds each other together.....Also a binding which comes out of being part of one family - the family of God...than our own "Blood related family" and their needs!

All it need is one "Self" to break this community!

Am I community maker or breaker....

Stations on the Road to Freedom

Dietrich Bonhoeffer(1906-1945) Discipline If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all things to govern your soul and your sense...