Community is where we practice freedom. Our tempting illusion is that if we could “fix” those around us, our problems would go away. How might your day be different if you viewed the most troublesome thorns in your flesh as treasures? Congress, perhaps? If you want a “sea change” in your life, view community as a gift or a playground, not a problem or a burden.
Community is us, not them. Thus, the desire to fight becomes a respectful pursuit of what is right. The urge to flee becomes contentment with “the things we cannot change.” In Divine Therapy and Addiction (pp. 63-64), Thomas Keating (1923-2018) provides insight into the Serenity Prayer:
“Humility is the capacity to accept whatever happens, peacefully. Then you can decide whether God is calling you simply to accept the situation, or to do something to improve or correct it. Humility … puts one in tune with the universe and with whatever is happening in the present moment, whether to oneself or others.”
Alienation, and the violence that may accompany it, is rooted in feeling powerless, disconnected from community. True freedom gives one the power to connect, to create. Where isolation and powerlessness abound, community is an undervalued faith theme.