By Analena Rebelo, Aurora ON. When you hear the word “community”, like me, you probably think of a group of people living in a common area or sharing some particular characteristic, interest, or passion. You might think of your neighbourhood, or religious or social groups. But how often does the word community conjure up images of your teenagers bickering over TV rights, while you try to get through a family meal at home? I’d hazard a guess that the answer is seldom if ever.
Most of us who are employed – be it self-employed or otherwise – spend the majority of any given day dedicating our time and effort to serving others. We leave home early in the morning to attend to the needs of others – clients/customers/employers. We smile politely in greeting, thank profusely when etiquette demands it, and very often solve someone else’s problems when we can often barely figure out how to solve our own.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but more often than not, by the time I walk through my home front door after a hard day’s work, I can barely muster the strength to throw some ingredients together for the evening meal, let alone sit through it while trying to make meaningful conversation with my significant others. I’m ashamed to admit that I have no problem listening to my clients’ problems for hours on end, or bending over backwards to address any of their concerns, or doing everything humanly possible to provide them with unparalleled service. Yet, with my own family, I am often too exhausted to even ask if my teenager is feeling overwhelmed with school work; if my older son is worried about embarking on his newly chosen career path; or if my husband is frustrated by the lack of growth potential at his workplace. My crazy schedule leaves me with little energy to want to do much more than indulge in a hot shower before tumbling into bed at night. As a result, my contribution to my family’s well-being is sadly lacking in many aspects, and as such, I cannot claim that I contribute in a very meaningful way to the most important community that I’m a part of – my family.
In order for any community to grow and develop, there has to be a focus on the evolution of all aspects of that community’s well-being. This is achieved through a process whereby community members come together to collectively generate solutions to common problems. While it is imperative that we contribute in meaningful ways towards our communities, let us not forget that ultimately the most important community we belong to is our family, for our family is a microcosm of the larger communities to which we belong. Troubles or problems found in our communities are also found in our families albeit on a smaller scale. If we cannot address the problems in our homes, how can we hope to contribute to the solution of our communities’ problems? If family members come together to voice their concerns out loud, to feel heard, understood, and empathized with, homes become primary sources for community development, where each and every member is encouraged to reach out to one another and collectively generate coping skills and mechanisms. The steps for solving community problems may arguably begin with the family, as skills learned would spread to and permeate the larger community through the process of interaction and socialization. That being so, it can be said that community development therefore ultimately begins with the family where individuals who make up communities are born and bred before being introduced into the larger society.
So much could be written on the topic regarding community beginning in the home. The above just scratches the surface!
Author of Getting To Sold