Community requires need

The ethos of “find your tribe” “find your truth” actually kills tribalism.

Why?  Because a tribe (a community) is meant to hold together when times are tough as well as when times are good.

Our tribes are held together by convenience.   When one’s “truth” changes, one can change tribes with no regret – because the larger value in our society is that of being true to oneself above all else.

In the conservative online community, we talk often about the useful effects of community standards, and how soft methods of social control help maintain the community.  And then someone looks at me, a respectable matron, and expects me to trot out the social controls.

But there’s a problem.  No one cares.   In order for social control to work, the person being controlled has to care more about the community than they do about the discipline.  And we’ve all been taught to *not* care, to push back against any authority, anyone that might make us consider changing our behavior.

No one agrees on truth.  This is less of a problem in religious conservative circles, because we can always go back to Bible.  But even so, we argue.  We argue because we don’t have a common tradition, a common, “this is just how things are done”.  (If we did, being Western, we’d decide to throw it away because it was old and outmoded).

We’ve become so individualistic as a society that community is something we put on just for now, just while it feels good, just while it works for us.  Why?  Because we don’t need it to survive.  Give the community the authority it had when our grandparents were young, the authority to regulate “respectable” behavior, and see how fast people leave.  We’re humans, and humans don’t like to be controlled.


And that fact is why individuality will trump community until the community is a need, not a want.

Everyone can go somewhere else.

6 thoughts on “Community requires need

  1. seriouslyserving

    Interesting Hearthie!
    My husband and I were talking a bit about the need for community as we have been watching a series called ‘Life Below Zero’, about a handful of people who live in remote Alaska.
    We noted the other day that the majority of the people covered by the series did not have kids, and they all lived in lone houses far from the nearest village.
    The only family on the show that did have kids, lived in a village with family close by.
    I think having kids actually does make community a need, but you can see that much more clearly in remote areas of the world where community might literally be the difference between life or death for your family.

    1. hearthie Post author

      When you live in a remote area, you have fewer choices about community. Is community a need in the modern day, even with kids? I think it’s not quite a need, but close. But in our society (and in most places) you have a glut of choice, and there is no social consequence from changing – changing as much as you’d like. You’re just trying to find your tribe, and representing your truth, after all! This is *lauded*, not examined. (Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, it’s the reason you moved on, not the moving on that is questionable).

      Take church – there are more than a DOZEN very large evangelical churches in my town of 170K people. If I go to the surrounding communities, I have my choice of half a dozen churches in my own (sort of) denomination. I’m sure they get together and vet people in positions of major leadership – but if you want to just be part of the body? *A* body? Get kicked out of one church and there plenty more where that came from. (Those are just the Big Dawgs – there are a lot more churches, and a lot more denominations).

      How about crossfit, to go to another extreme? One of the big selling points in CF is the community vibe. Four in my town, plenty more in the surrounding areas. If I tick off my coach…

      Schools? Of course we have our public school, which is determined by our place of residence. But my kids go to a charter school. How many charter schools? Over a dozen in easy driving distance. If I don’t like mine…

      Yes, if I tick off the people around me and move, I have to start all over again with new people. But that happens – my area also has very high mobility, so folks move in and out all the time for perfectly good reasons. But no one asks the question. Why? Because part of status as a community is size. So you want to be the biggest community – the most influential community – the community of choice… you don’t ask questions.

  2. pukeko60

    Tempted to post your comment to your post, H.
    Since I live in a slightly smaller town in a smaller country… I would add that community is made up of families living in long proximity to each other. My dead Father in law set up such a situation when he and his climbing buddies all bought land together. The families grew up together, and have to tolerate each other (in those days you could walk your steam off, but you still needed their help to get the water into houses and the wood cut).
    The USA is remarkably fluid, as are most English speaking countries. Other places, less so. But they talk less about community, for they live it, and have much, much less depression and anxiety.

    1. hearthie Post author

      Feel free. 🙂

      In SoCal, there is very little multi-generational community. But… there are very few of us who are second or third generation natives to any town here. VERY few.

  3. Elspeth

    Good comment from Chris. We are more like Hearthie. In fact very recently we met a man and when my husband answered his query by saying that we were both actually from here, he was surprised and said that in the several years he’d lived here we were the first true natives he’d met.

    People just don’t stay put here. We’re a pit stop on the way to somewhere else (folks are constantly moving), or people come here as adults.

    There is very little community here. Even within the Christian homeschool community, there is a lot of transient activity.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s