It really doesn’t seem that long ago. Remember the days when friends would just pop in? You’d hear a knock at the door and a voice calling out, “Anyone home?”
You’d invite your visitors in and put the kettle on. You’d grab the biscuit tin then sit down for a good chat. There didn’t have to be an invitation weeks in advance giving you enough time to have your house looking like a display home. The only cleaning up would be straightening up a few bits and pieces as you headed towards the door to see who was there.
There used to be a spontaneity about getting together with friends.
Now it all has to be carefully orchestrated so most of the time we just don’t bother.
Our lives have got busier with each family member heading in different directions for a range of activities so it’s probably wise to give a quick call before visiting or to invite friends over but what can we do to reignite that sense of community?
Many times the people who would drop in would be neighbours. They’d walk across the road or down the street for a cuppa and we would drop in at their place. How many people do you know in your own street?
If we run out of ingredients for something we’re making for dinner there are several places in our suburb that we can dash out to for whatever we need at any hour of the day. We just jump in the car and we’re back home with what we need in minutes. It didn’t used to be that way. Shops weren’t always open and not everyone had a car to get to the shops anyway. We’d go next door or over the road and borrow what we needed until shopping day. We’d also lend out whatever our neighbours needed. We’ve lost that reliance on each other and lost community in the process.
Our world is constantly changing and we can’t go back.
It’s tempting to think we should just try to turn back the clock and start doing the things we used to do but that’s not the answer. It’s community we want to regain, not the way we used to see it expressed. The shape of our lives has changed but there’s still a need to connect with others. The old ways don’t work anymore but that doesn’t mean that we can’t experience community.
It’s interesting to note that around 40% of Australians say the place they experience community is the local shopping centre.
If the greatest sense of community that people feel is being in the middle of a sea of nameless faces, we’ve got a lot of work to do to see people fully engage with others and experience a deeper sense of community.
We can’t go back to what was but how can we move forward to regain community? How can we create significant relationships with those around us?
I guess the first step is to realise that relationship is far more important than so much of the stuff we’ve put in its place. What are some practical things that we can do to demonstrate that?
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