Who hasn’t?

Who hasn’t had the community discussion with a client or a friend?

You know which one I mean – “let’s build a community.”

A community of users…of whatever…

A community of deodorant rejecters…

A community of activists…of just about anything

A community of people who are community members….

No s—t, I have heard all of the above. And more.

Let’s be clear – there are serious community aggregations out there. And they can be powerful. From Egypt, to stopping human trafficking, to ending hunger, to providing support for those devastated in the way-too-many tragedies – naturally and otherwise occurring – that fill our news and senses every day. Groups of people coalesce around an issue – recruit others, solicit help and often funding, and strive to make a difference in the world.

But ask yourself – in the quiet of this reading – is the accumulation of brown-sugar- water drinkers who like to post pictures of themselves drinking or doing funny things with the empty bottles a community? Fill in any other like group that comes to mind and repeat.

When you sit in a restaurant, go to a movie, sit on a crowded plane or an overcrowded bus – do you feel that you are in a community?

Versus when you go to your church, mosque or synagogue, or any other faith-based gathering – if you are so inclined. Or to a family event or a friend’s reunion, or even to work…in the best of places.

I began obsessing on this notion a while ago – and see it linked to the sadly skewed notion of what friends are that I am happy to say is beginning to change. As I always ask when I speak at conferences after I query who in the room has 500 or more friends on Facebook – “And how many of them will pick you up at the airport?”  The nervous laughter always answers the question and makes the point.

It was also driven home to me as I sat down to write this morning (rather early – we just turned the clock ahead) and check Google Trends, curious to see what the world was searching, and was once again saddened to see that most of the world is paying little attention to Japan, even when it was Top of Search on Friday.  It’s already being supplanted by the latest pop news and such – except for Nuclear Meltdown as some see it as one big live Disaster Movie.

So what is a community? Try this – listen:

Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

So what do you really care about?

What really makes for a community?

What communities do you really belong to?

And maybe – just maybe – we can come up with a better term to define those less- than-community gatherings – and leave the term for when it really matters.

What do you think?

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