In our world of sound bites, quick responses and “gotcha” moments, how do we bridge division within our community to create unity? Let’s start by looking at what community really is. Community is collective unity, humanity experiencing connection. Thriving communities offer their citizens opportunities to contribute and to belong. What is our modern society – the most connected group of people in human history – missing the most? What do our smartphones, computers, apps, televisions and other tech gadgets leave us needing?
The answer is simple: We need to belong. To connect. To contribute. We need to thrive within a community!
Think back to your childhood. What made you feel like you were a true part of your community? I remember Sunday dinners with family, sharing stories of loved ones, eating home-cooked southern food, and sitting on the front porch shelling peas in rocking chairs while Mammaw told us about those “good ole days.” So how do we begin to recreate those “good ole days” again?
People treasured communities back then. Communities provided security, shelter, education, and the framework to foster successful living. The survival of one’s community often determined one’s survival. It may seem different among today’s noise and commotion, but the need of thriving communities is as important today and it was then. When crisis approaches and stability seems lost, we seek the same central institutions that our ancestors sought: church, family, school, local government and businesses. How poignant that our founding fathers and mothers set that example from the beginning. Our lives and our towns were built around churches, where people gathered to sing together, pray together, and love one another. Southerners added a twist to all things community – food! For us, community begins with people and food!
So in rebuilding the unity in the community, what are some must haves? Love and care through wisdom, acceptance, and respect are the building blocks for the road to success in any community. And, of course, delicious food.
Creating a vision for the future begins with everyone working together toward a common goal. There is one thing we can all agree on: We want our children and grandchildren to stay here, to thrive here, and to sustain our community for future generations. As we move forward in achieving this goal together, let’s concentrate on growing our community by investing in our churches, families, schools, government and locally-owned businesses. Let’s organize events that inspire educational, economic, and civic success. Let’s create a fun, artistic and relaxed atmosphere that brings pleasure to the mind, body, and soul. Support one another with kind words, generous encouragement and helping hands. Let’s start putting unity back into our community today and watch as our churches grow, our families stick around, our schools excel, our political leaders work together and our businesses prosper. When we restore our sense of community, future generations will aspire to live like those “good ole days.”