The Cost of Community July 9, 2009Posted by Dan R. Dick in Uncategorized.
For the last 48 hours life has been an out-of-control roller-coaster ride for my wife, our two cats, and me. All our worldly possessions are currently somewhere between Nashville, Tennessee and Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. We are sitting in our new (new to us, anyway) condo, preparing to launch/create a whole new life in a whole new place with a whole new cast of characters. When did life become so transitory and disposable? For the past fifteen years — good or ill — Nashville has been home base, where almost all of my professional contacts, colleagues, and community exists. My wife, former editor at the United Methodist Publishing House, made not only working relationships through her office, but many friendships as well. When our professional relationships were severed, our community suffered for it. Our networks of friends, co-workers, and partners stay behind. We move on. What a strange way to live.
I think of one of my “community” members from Vanderbilt who told me a few months ago that I “was crazy.” “Community,” he said, “is a false construct, created to make something out of nothing. Informal ties define social networks that are advantageous to a number of people. Without advantage, there is no need for community. You aren’t really losing anything,” he said, “but a figment of your imagination. You were fired eleven months ago and most of the people who were deeply bothered at the time don’t even remember that you’re gone.” My friend may be right, but even if he is, I still feel sad. Relationships should mean something, and the severing of relationships should matter as well. Community lost can never be regained.