Three ideas from the first section of Community and Growth: “Community as belonging” (13-18)
(1) To be human is to long for community. Our longing for community begins in utero. The minute we are born, we long for and seek the connection we had with our mothers in the womb. The family is the first community of which we are a part. As children, if we feel that we belong to that first community, we will be well-positioned to be part of other communities. If we don’t feel part of that first family community, the yearning for community/belonging doesn’t go away, it simply gets buried.
(2) The individualism and competitiveness of Western culture is a significant challenge to building community. Vanier tells this story. “Rene Lenoir, in Les Exclus, says that if a prize is offered for the first to answer a question in a group of Canadian Indian children, they all work out the answer together and shout it out at the same time. They couldn’t bear one to win, leaving the rest as losers. The winner would be separated from his brothers and sisters, he would have won the prize but lost community,” (16). Seems impossible to imagine, doesn’t it?
(3) Belonging to a community is the foundation of doing good in the world. Of one’s community, one’s “people,” Vanier writes: “It means that they are mine as I am theirs. There is a solidarity between us. What touches them, touches me. And when I say ‘my people,’ I don’t imply that there are others I reject. My people is my community, made up of those who know me and carry me. They are a springboard towards all humanity. I cannot be a universal brother or sister unless I first love my people,” (17).