2.3 Communities of spirit
Another way to think about community is as something that you choose to define or even create for yourself, based on what you value most, as William describes next.
Listen to Video 3, where William talks about what community means to him.
Now answer the following questions in Activity 6.
Activity 6: William’s perspective on community
- How did you feel reading/listening to William’s story of what community means to him?
- Did any of the things he values surprise you?
- Why was having time alone important to him?
William talks about what community means to him in different ways and has created his own understanding of community and belonging, which is not simply about where he has grown up or how others might see him. For William community is not all about place. Instead, he describes different kinds of communities he belongs to. He uses the phrase ‘community of spirit’ to describe what he feels with other people such as his family, those he works with on conflict transformation and also with people he spent time with during his long imprisonment. He also values time alone to think and reflect.
Discovering who you are and what you value, as an individual separate from your environment, the community you grow up in or how others see you, is not an easy thing to do. One skill William learned while in prison and through his education and the advice of others, was how to take the time to pause, to reflect on his experience and to actively explore his own thoughts. When doing self-reflection like this it is useful to note down your thoughts so that you can revisit them again at another time. You can also see if your thinking has changed over time. Self-reflection is something you will find valuable to do throughout this course, so why not try it now.
Activity 7: Time to reflect
Take a few minutes to note down your thoughts on the following.
- What do I value most in my life (write down three things)?
- What does community mean to me?
- What community or communities do I feel I belong to? There may be more than one community you feel you belong to so feel free to list as many as you can and how these overlap for you, if at all.
Community is something that is made through relationships, memories and experiences with others, and because of this, as people we can also change our community or its boundaries or even make new communities. In times of social or political conflict however, or if you and your community are feeling under threat, it can be harder to change your idea of community or make new connections with others, as you will explore in the next section.