My handy phone dictionary defines the term as a “friendship between different people or groups, and a sense of having something in common“.
Personally, I can’t be satisfied with that sort of definition. It doesn’t give you the real picture of what it means to be a community. It doesn’t give you a real idea of a community.
Truthfully, not many of us actually understand what a real community is. Even a lesser number of us experience being in one.
I live in the province. In a town that has not yet been overcome by urbanization. In our corner of town, there’s even less influence of that. Some of us, many of us still live in houses without a touch of concrete.
People from other places would call us poor. Well, it’s quite true. Financially.
Technologically, we have been left a bit behind. Sure, we do get mobile phone service. You reach like 10, 12 years old and you just gotta have a cellphone. Even younger, for some.
However, the phone line companies have not yet bothered to make their lines reach as far as our place. Hence, where I live, there’s no internet connection.
But they say that there are many ways in which we can measure wealth. And I believe them. Because, if there is one wealth that we can be proud of, it is our sense of community.
It’s not that big a place but the person living on one edge of our place would most probably know the person living on the other side. In one zone, as we call the smaller divisions of our place, it’s also very much possible that it’s actually just one family, one huge extended family, living there. With one family name. Albeit, with the occasional ones who differ.
I went to a subdivision on a weekend once, to a classmate’s house, and it was as if people didn’t even know each other. It didn’t help that it was so quiet and it was like everyone was cooped up in their houses with no intention at all to interact with the people around them.
We have real neighbours here. Neighbours we share stuff with. Neighbours we do things with. Neighbours we can go to for help when we need it.
Speaking of sharing, we have this vacant patch of land close to the beach. I have a cousin who decided that it’s wasteful leaving it that way so she planted root crops. Yesterday, she gave us some of the produce. I thought she was seriously trying to sell it but she really just wanted to give us some of the produce of our land.
We had it for breakfast this morning. Our neighbours bought some of it from my cousin. My mother has never been the type to cook food far beyond edibility but one of our neighbours willingly shared the toppings they made. They’d have shared the entire dish if we didn’t have the base. I didn’t even have to ask for it. It was good breakfast.
See, there’s beauty in that. In the city, you have to be invited over for dinner to share other people’s food. And, you’ll be expected to bring some food over and be dressed for dinner. In our place, you just gotta eat outside your house and you wouldn’t even need to share a table in order to share breakfast. Or any dinner, for that matter.
This, among others, is exactly why I can never truly wish to get out of here. I keep saying that, once I have enough money, I’d get out of here and move to the big city. Everything there is bigger – the houses, the roads, the opportunities, everything.
But the country has this… This something that I can’t put a name on. That something makes me want to stay here and wish that things don’t change.
It’s not just the community. It’s more than the community. It’s bigger than the community.
Unfortunately, they also say that change is the only thing permanent in this world. And I believe them on that one, too. Still, one can always wish.