6.16. A Revival of Community

There are two really big, important things we can do to rebuild our sense of community—and they’re both kind of counterintuitive.

There are a lot of little things we can do, to build strong communities.

That’s what most of the videos in this series have been about.

But in the end, we aren’t going to reinvigorate our sense of community through little tweaks or tricks.

We aren’t going to come together by force.

And we sure aren’t going to end up living in harmony if we keep shaming people, scapegoating people, yelling at people to turn off their technologies, or getting wrapped up in other, similar fixations that don’t really address the core problem.

If you’ve been following this series on community-building, I hope what you’ll take away from it is that there are two really big, important things we can do to rebuild our sense of community—and they’re both kind of counterintuitive.

The first thing is we need to get out of our immediate, local communities more.

We need to understand that no matter how diverse our own communities may seem, they utterly pale in comparison to the enormity, complexity, and diversity of people out there.

We need to understand that even people who live a few miles away from us can live in totally different worlds. That the solutions that look obvious to us really aren’t so obvious to people with totally different experiences, struggles, and perspectives.

Many of our divisions thrive on separation. On our mistaken assumption that things are simpler than they really are. That what we see in our own communities is what things are like everywhere. That people who disagree with us are stupid, ignorant, and brainwashed, instead of responding to real, legitimate concerns in their own communities.

If we really made a concerted effort—really got out there and made connections among people from all walks of life, instead of just talking about it as a nice thing to do in theory—I think we’d see some real progress.

The other big, important thing we can do is focus not just on fixing our communities themselves—but also on fixing our institutions.

The declining sense of community we’ve experienced over the past 50 years has coincided with a spectacular implosion of trust in our institutions.

If we don’t trust our institutions—if we don’t trust our government, businesses, media, schools, religions, and other organizations that are supposed to be the pillars of our society—it’s going to be nearly impossible for us to trust each other.

We’re going to feel unsafe. We’re going to feel insecure. We’re going to worry that everybody’s out for themselves, and out to get us, instead of primarily concerned about the common good.

So our crisis in our institutions is very much connected to our crisis of community.

By fixing our institutions, we’ll create the conditions for a revival of community.

Our institutions are pretty dysfunctional. They’re wracked with seemingly irreconcilable ideological disputes that we need to figure out how to resolve.

And that’s exactly what the next series of videos will focus on: our really bitter, divisive ideological disputes—and how many of them aren’t nearly as irresolvable as you might think.


This is the 108th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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