It fascinates me how the concept of community can be so different between people. I thought I had an accurate depiction of what a community is, but after reading The Abundant Community by John McKnight and Peter Block, I now realize there can be many definitions of community. There were a lot of beliefs brought up about what an abundant community should be, and I both agree and disagree with them. There were many ideas that I agreed with up to a certain point but then disagreed after relating it to my personal life.
Growing up in a consumer society made it very difficult to see a different point of view the authors were offering. The first tenant, “what we have is enough”, explains that we must value what we have and be satisfied with it. I feel it would be too challenging living in a consumer society to believe that what we have is enough. Another tenant of abundance is living in mystery. Mystery is welcomed in an abundant community because it is a catalyst for creativity. Being a very organized person, the idea of living in mystery is very uneasy. One belief I think would be too challenging to live by is sharing everything personal with each other. The authors state, “community competence depends on our willingness to share with others what is most intimate and personal.” In my opinion, not many people share personal information willingly.
I do agree with the idea of accepting people’s fallibility. “Fallibility is a part of the human condition, and therefore a reality of the relational world”. With the right mindset and recognition, I think human fallibility can be accepted. Another idea of abundance is inviting in strangers, which I personally agree with. We often ignore or fear strangers, but you never know what you will get out of meeting someone unless you take the initiative to do so. Storytelling is also a tenant of an abundant community, and I found it to be one of the most truthful and relatable tenants. The authors describe a culture as being built through the stories told. Storytelling brings out the personal connection between people that makes a strong foundation in any relationship.
The tenant “what we have is enough” is interesting, because while some people can live by that idea and be sustainable, other people think that they can never have enough. I grew up on a dairy farm where I was told I could not have certain things because we could not afford it. I remember always being upset because I saw my friends getting whatever they wanted. Being in that position, I experienced how it felt to not have something. Now, if I want something and I am able to afford it, I have no problem buying it to make myself happy. On the other hand, when I traveled to Cambodia for a nursing mission trip, I saw families who had very little but did not ask for more. In their minds what they had was enough, but they also never got to experience what it's like to have things like we do in America. I think that it depends on your background and where you live to be able to abide by the tenant, “what we have is enough.”
I can also personally relate to the idea of inviting in strangers. I grew up a very shy child who got upset in uncomfortable situations or with people I did not know. It was not until I started working as a CNA at a nursing home when I no longer feared strangers. I was forced to converse with strangers and become very personal with them. I had to learn how to walk into a resident’s room not knowing a single thing about them and quickly adapt. If somebody does not know who you are, especially if you are a caretaker, they are not going to trust you. Relationships build off of getting to know each other, and if we are fearful of meeting strangers, relationships will never form. Being comfortable interacting with strangers is hard, but if everyone would abide by this then relationships in communities can become even stronger.
After reading The Abundant Community, I can now say that I have a broader sense of what a community is. Although some of the ideas mentioned were a little different, I was able to look at what a community is in many different ways. I feel more educated on what it takes to build a community, and that it can be as simple as building relationships with one another. I really enjoyed how the book focused on such simple ideas but very complex ideas, in the sense that you have to have the right mindset. We are so set in our ways that it is hard to change. I hope to take away certain aspects that I can apply in my life to better myself and my role in the community.