Community, some argue, is third from the top in Abraham Maslow‘s Hierarchy of Needs, just above physiological needs (food, home, shelter) and safety. Community, as defined by Maslow, is love and belonging.
Many contend that the high need for safety (as the second tier of needs) is the key reason fear tactics work so well in the political arena. It’s the potential reason we continue to experience negative political ads, the use of the terrorists as a unifying nationalist concept, and the incessant need for a strong military budget over an education or health services budgets.
Since community is higher on the tier, it’s no wonder it has taken a bit longer to take hold in the national conversation, but it is increasingly taking hold. Here’s one example: This weekend WordCamp Philadelphia was held at the University of the Sciences, the least known of the many great educational institutions in the City of Brotherly Love. The keynote/opening address was by Marc Coleman, president of The Tactile Group, a web development and creative services agency. The topic: The Risks and Rewards of Community. Ostensibly the entire conference was about building an inclusive WordPress Community, not unlike the way Harley Davidson has a community of brand advocates from all walks of life. Ride a Harley and it doesn’t really matter if you’re Black, White, Female, Punk, or Confederate. You’re part of the Harley community.
At the WordPress event, tracks were created for Developers, Freelancers, and Newbies – to welcome all as part of the community regardless of expertise. Within minutes, however, the discussion from Coleman’s speech turned political focusing on tolerance, empathy and the culture of inclusion.
Coleman quoted Son of Baldwin, a blog and award winning voice in the black queer arena:
We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my OPPRESSION and denial of my humanity and right to exist.
When the audience questioned Coleman on how to react to neo-Nazis and others who clearly are on the side of exclusion rather than inclusion, Coleman rationally noted that the future is already diverse whether the current small-minded fundamentalists like it or not. A quick review of Pew Research data shows he’s right. If we did nothing but aged and let trends take their course this is how the world will look soon enough:
- More immigrants will be at the workplace. Per Pew: “Without immigrants, there would be an estimated 18 million fewer working-age adults in the country in 2035 because of the dearth of U.S.-born children with U.S.-born parents.”
- Muslim faith populations will increase. Pew reports that “between 2010 and 2050, the global Muslim population is projected to grow 73%, while the Christian population will grow just 35%, about the rate of overall global population growth.” This doesn’t mean that the US will become a Muslim nation, but it does mean that Christians will be a decreasing majority.
- America continues to become more diverse. According to the U.S. Census: “Asian and mixed-race people are the two fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population.” White people used to just seeing more white people around their neighborhoods, schools and work, will increasingly get used to being in spaces with more and more people who may not look like them.
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If it’s true that familiarity breeds contempt, we may be in for more contempt. If, however, the slow changing face of society allows us, as a nation, to get increasingly used to diversity, we may have a brighter future. The real question is can we just sit around and wait? The consensus of the new Woke generation is no. It’s time to wake up and smell the rotten tomatoes.
For all who lived through or were related to those who lived through the Holocaust, the mantra of “never again” also means never stay silent again. Silences can too easily imply acceptance. And, although protests can cause backlash, Son of Baldwin feels compelled to: “Disturbing the peace in order to find it.” And, if nothing else, protests, conferences, religious institutions, even bridge clubs are all ways to find community and collectively figure out how to move forward to create a desired future. The answer will be different for each community, but at least you won’t feel alone in your quest.
Suggested Little Hinge Action Steps:
- Follow Son of Baldwin‘s blog on Medium.com. It may mot be comfortable, but is a way to become exposed to different points of view and better understand them. But as Donald Earl Collins, an Associate history professor commented in one difficult post,”People shouldn’t always agree with what you write, but you should always be willing to make us see your truth. You should always be willing to bring us the disillusion and the discomfort we as your readers need.”
- Listen to Fox sometimes. Even if only in small doses, force yourself to hear the other side and compare how the news is covered differently. If you want to know why some people think they way they do, listen to their sources and then consider other sources to help foster discussions.
- Read or Watch Van Jones. His latest book is Beyond The Messy Truth-How We Came Apart; How We Come Together.
- Find a Community. It could be the Granny Brigade in Philadelphia, now in their 11th year of waging peace, or a WordPress group, but don’t try to go it alone. It’s why we write Little Hinges, so if your voice seems solo, you can see that there are others out there equally concerned. There is strength in numbers.