How Would You Rate Your Community?
As I continue to read on community in the US, I’m struck by the steady decline of genuine human interaction beyond superficial familial, vocational, and patron-client relationships. Robert Putnam notes the decline of community in the United States stating that over the past 25 years, attendance at club meetings has fallen 58 percent, family dinners are down 33 percent, and having friends visit has fallen 45 percent. The last two figures are most disconcerting. People just don’t share meals much anymore, especially in their homes, a place where community has often flourished.
In Urban Tribes, Ethan Watters confesses that the “never-marrieds” (singles in 20s-30s) abandoned community in pursuit of vocation and avocation. Many of them critique the superficiality of our culture, form bonds with a small group of like-minded people, bemoan the breakdown of community, but don’t really do anything about it. Their bonds tend to be negative and inward, not positive and outwardly focused. In short, “a population defined by what we aren’t doing.”
Can you relate to any of this, positively or negatively? I’m curious what your experience of community is like? Where are you finding meaningful connections with other people? Are these relationships satisfying your hunger for community? What is lacking, if anything, and what is wonderful?