An abundant and competent community is a welcoming and inclusive community.
In their Book: The Aabundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods, John McKnight and Peter Block describe how we might make our communities better.
Community has a job to do, and that is to create conditions where individuals and families can perform certain functions. These functions are
- to educate a child,
- sustain a healthy body,
- have a safe street,
- participate in a local economy,
- care for the land,
- be smart in its relationship to food,
- and welcome those on the margin.
The premise is that when our communities become competent, we will not be dependent on the marketplace to achieve our most precious ends.
The experience of millions of our predecessors, through time, led them to create cultures that nurture and sustain community life of mutual dependency. These community cultures included both the wisdom and errors of our elders.
The consumer society has stripped away the wisdom of these ways. Without that culture and community wisdom, we are naked in the storm, with families often defenseless, overwhelmed, fearful, and divorcing; neighbors suspicious; colleagues as competitors. There seems to be nothing to do in response but to try to buy our way out.
While we need to build on the cultural wisdom of the past, we can leave behind those practices that were not sustaining. Too often, traditional communities have excluded some. This is why we place hospitality at the center of newly activated communities. Similarly, traditional communities too often relegated some members to a subordinate place. That is why we have emphasized that every member of the community has gifts to give and that every gift is uniquely valuable and needed.
The Tenets of Abundance
What we have is enough.
We have the capacity to provide what we need in the face of the human condition.
We organize our world in a context of cooperation and satisfaction. We do not need competition to organize our children or ourselves.
We are responsible for each other.
We live with the reality of the human condition.
We understand what we can and cannot do.
Sorrow, aging, illness, celebration, fallibility, failure, misfortune, and joy are natural and inevitable.
Life is not a problem to be solved or services to be obtained.
A competent community has three properties:
Focus on the gifts of its members.
Nurture associational life.
Offer hospitality, the welcoming of strangers.
In turn, these collective properties create the communal conditions for the emergence in families and neighborhoods of certain capacities.
Acceptance of fallibility
The combination of these properties and capacities is a collective way of being that is needed for families and neighborhoods to fulfill their functions with respect to youth, safety, health, prosperity, and other elements of satisfaction. When we make these properties and capacities more vivid and possible, it opens the way to a life of satisfaction
Hospitality and the Welcoming of strangers
A wounded community does not have this capacity. Hospitality generates from trust and produces trust and friendship. It is what is missing in the world of fear and scarcity. In a world of hollowness, hospitality is what is most needed yet is so rare. If I am afraid, I probably won’t invite somebody over. Welcoming strangers is not just an act of generosity; it is also a source of vitality and learning.
- Labeling – is prejudice – it pre-judges a person based on one characteristic or difference or deficiency. It harms the Labeled and deprives the rest of us from recognizing the gifts they have for the community
- Their only real deficiency is the lack of connection to the rest of us.
- the key words for our community are invitation, participation, and connection.
- “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yates.
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