How voluntary is community?

Each individual on earth is a part of least one community in some way. Typically, when we use the word community, we associate it with a positive connotation, however, there are many different types of communities and ways in which they are formed. All around the world there are communities of action, circumstance, interest, location, practices, and there are hybrid communities that combine some of these. Not all communities are good and not all are bad. So the question is: How voluntary is community?

You, reader, live in a community formed by living proximity and legal boarders giving you a connection between yourself and your neighbors and all the people that fall under the legislation of a particular area of residence. Other common examples of communities are those of a certain school district formed by boarders and taxes, college communities that are formed by the people who aren’t accepted, work communities which are formed by a group of people working under the same boss, and religious communities formed by people who have very similar religious beliefs. Communities can form around the smallest aspects of life that people share as well as the biggest like living under the same government.

Although positive communities are the first people tend to remember, the negative ones are just as impactful. One example of a negative community in history was the Holocaust where a community of Nazis were formed by Hitler’s followers. This group was able to control other people and harm them due to the power of their community. Any groups of combat fighters getting into a dispute causing a war could be considered negative or positive communities depending on which side the person forming such an opinion is favoring.

In the books we are studying in class each book has at least one example of a community within it. In Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler there are communities called enclaves where a group of people infected with the same disease live and there are also groups of biker gangs that travel around the desert creating crimes. In Zulus by Percival Everett, the city is a forced living community where everyone has to live and work unless they find some way to escape. If they do escape from the city they may run to one of the rebel camps where they have to be accepted into the community that these runaways have built. Religious communities, such as a church, most often create more tight knit groups of people, like in Home by Toni Morrison where the reader gets a taste of this reliance on others when the character Frank Money shows up to the church to receive help and enough money to try and put him into a somewhat better situation. Also, in the book, diversity leading to separation is very relevant. Different skin colors and different income levels affected the characters living situation where they lived in a community consisting of lower-class African Americans who were close to the low-income earning job of working in a field that most of them spend their time doing. Furthermore, the treatment they received from their surrounding communities affected their lives. Another community within Home was Frank’s army group who all resided together, followed the same orders, and worked as a group with the same goal in common; beat the enemy and stay alive.

Every person who is involved in multiple communities throughout their lives receives the effects of them whether they are positive of negative. Community can be voluntary, however, most of the communities are not necessarily a choice but rather a societal placement/label. Reflect upon what communities you are a part of, if you chose them or not, and how they effect your life as well as others.

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