My sister-in-law and her husband owned a retail business for 45 years in the town where they, and my wife, grew up. Conversations at their dinner table often revolved around people they went to elementary school with and still interact with.
This mystified me for years. When I married into that family, I had lived in over twenty different places. Outside of my immediate family, I had no connections to the people I had grown up with. I’m not sure I had the concept of having grown up with someone who wasn’t family.
I’ve heard it said that the vast majority of humankind is born, lives, and dies within 25 miles of their birthplace. I understood this as an intellectual datapoint. Not so much as an emotional anchor.
Charlotte and I have been married for coming up on 39 years. We’ve had multiple addresses over that span. Most recently, we’ve been living in Nazaré, Portugal.
The cliche here would be that we have each other as anchors. While there’s certainly truth to that, the more interesting observation is that we’ve been part of two church communities. Ten years in Boston, Twenty seven in Chicago. Mainline Protestant (despite, or perhaps because of, my Roman Catholic upbringing). Neither the theology or the liturgy are central. What is central is a commitment to making community work.
I’m pretty sure you can’t be effective without community. You need something that resembles the history and connections that my sister and brother-in-law take for granted. You have to be able to predict how others will react to the unexpected. It takes time and effort to build and maintain community. Organizations are reluctant to invest in the long slow work of building community and resilience.
Organizations prefer to deal with the unexpected by eliminating it. This is the false appeal of efficiency. Lock everything down and define every response. The universe, however, insists on being unpredictable.
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Thank you for sharing your insights. Your article was insightful and informative, and I appreciate the time and effort you put into writing it.