What is a community?

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And what does it take to make one? Is it like-minded people, who share ideals, beliefs or some other common values? Does it take a certain number of people to make a community?

If the people around you encourage and support you, even when you’re full of it, are they being a good community? If you aspire to join a clique or elite, and that clique decides to accept you, are you then a part of a community?

I believe that community is nothing but mutual respect. People can form a community without having common beliefs, without having shared identity or defining themselves in terms of each other. Numbers are irrelevant; ideals and desires are irrelevant; even the extent of mutual support and patronage is largely irrelevant. Community is a state of mind. It’s a sense of belonging that springs from feeling other people accept you despite, not because, of who you are.

When I came to Australia I did so for personal reasons; I didn’t come for my career, or the crowd, or the sense of belonging. I came here because my heart told me to, even though the reasons were wrong. And I never tried to rationalise that away. I didn’t try to convince myself that there were other reasons for coming here, that my career, my social life, or my lifestyle would otherwise improve. Oh wait, no, that’s not true. I did try to convince myself of all of those things — and to some extent, I succeeded; because to some extent, those things were true.

But they were never the reason, they were just ad-hoc post rationale.

And my reason turned to dust, and here I was, lonely, isolated, unhappy. I only had one real friend here (and everyday I’m thankful for his friendship), and already I’d made a whole bunch of enemies. But you know what — I stayed anyway. Because what I’m looking for is here. What I’m looking for is everywhere.

The world is a community; we can’t help ourselves, it just happens.

James EdwardsJames Edwards
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James is a freelance web developer based in the UK, specialising in JavaScript application development and building accessible websites. With more than a decade's professional experience, he is a published author, a frequent blogger and speaker, and an outspoken advocate of standards-based development.

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