At a fundamental level, the strength of social systems is built on built on individuals collectively acting in the interest of what nourishes and strengthens the entire community. This doesn’t mean self denial. To the contrary, it is critically important for each of us to be open to receive the things we need to stay strong, but this strength must be converted to something that enhances the entire community in order to produce real value. A mutual stake in each other’s success that extends outward to protect the sustainable flow of essential nourishment is the foundation of a solid community.
Collectively, we wield the power that crafts the idea of what is acceptable and what is not in our community. When we behave toward each other as if we all matter – when this is expressed through behaviors that demonstrate that we care for our streets and homes – when we educate by example and take an active stake in our community – these kinds of things are as contagious as a street full of security bars and trash is to generate the idea of what is acceptable and what is not. Leadership always flows from the bottom up. Community minded people at the bottom is what makes community minded action a priority at the top of any social order.
Generally speaking, there are those that lead and those that follow, but each of us, no matter what our station in life has the power to participate in cultivating the common wealth that flows from community. Sometimes this is as simple as holding a door, smiling, bringing a meal to a sick friend or picking up some trash, or painting a bench. For a business owner it might mean doing responsible things to make the lives of all the workers and the community better in tangible ways. Whatever we have to contribute to the community is ultimately sets the level for what that community is capable of doing. When a mutual stake in each other’s success erodes, so does the community’s capacity to carry the weight of it’s inhabitants. It’s as simple as that – and as complex.
Some of us erroneously think our wealth comes from competition. While competition is necessary to engage at times, cooperation is primary driver of wealth. Our value is rooted in how much we collectively translate what the community has to offer us as an investment that returns even more value back to that same community. This is the seed of real wealth.
Please share your thoughts on building community.
Taking too much from the social landscape, or giving too much are equally harmful. The enabler and the addict are examples of the destructive imbalance of giving and taking that can emerge and perpetuate themselves in human relationships. From a wide angle lens view the addict and the enabler are like the “tick and tock” sounds from the same relationship clock. The pendulum arc of this destructive relationship cycle swings through whole generations. Addict parents tend to produce enabler children who then spend their lives looking for unpleasable tyrants and impossible situations that they believe they need to please or solve. They think they failed because they’re not good enough when they finally collapse under the weight of the impossible. If the people in the enabler’s life are not demanding enough, they will project impossible demands on themselves in order to preserve their self-image as a failure. It is a recipe for frustration.
Enabler parents tend produce addict children by catering to their every whim. Hovering over their children and cutting off crusts while dancing like clowns, enabler’s bury their kids in the expectation that other people are responsible to entertain and appease their ever growing whims. These people grow up to have great expectations for everyone else and when those people inevitably fail to meet the addicts suffocating demands and collapse, the addict is not capable of concern for the people they buried in service to them, they wonder why bad things happen to them and mad that the person who collapsed will no longer be there to serve them.
This addict/enabler model is the systemic model of destructive giving and taking. Destructive taking can take on the form of narcissism or sociopathy, but the theme of destructive taking is a global tread that runs through them all. The same is true that destructive giving can take many forms. Some of these can create suffocating dependencies and the like. Not all destructive giving and taking falls into the addict/enabler model, but the idea here is to illustrate what happens when giving and getting become imbalanced. It has a tendency to propagate the imbalance, swinging back and forth in an eratic wave pattern.
When we look for what to address in our lives or our world, balance is the key to understanding.