Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The C word, pt. 2

I much appreciate the wisdom of the elder statesmen who visit eleven, like my Dad and GuyK. They make very good points. The main one being that Socialism (the basic social practice at the root of any good community) is a flawed system. Or rather, the fact that humans are involved makes it a flawed ideal. Point being... when there a social system that allows a little wiggle room in the responsibility department, people will push that as far as they can. That is Socialism's weak link: an opportunity to become lazy and selfish. Trying to force it, such as in Gov't Socialism, is no less effective and even more flawed, which is what Guy was warning against. And I agree with all of that.

But if you think I've given up on my dream, or that by agreeing with those men I think the C word is an impossible ideal, you'd be wrong. The concept is still a good one, and the ideal is noble.

Community and Communal living has worked in many different areas of the world in many different times in history, and I have very little doubt it can work again. The key is who's involved and if they desire the same things. Indians (to show one example) did it for centuries. Did they have problems? Of course! And I bet that's why there were so many different tribes when the whitey's showed up. So they fought and they split up, and then those groups fought and split up too. But I don't view that as a negative but rather growth in different directions.

On a somewhat-related bunny trail, the fact that the Native Americans were so divided and spread out probably accounts for the fact they were beaten and driven from their lands. If they had been united they would have stood a hundred fold better chance of survival and victory. But that takes nothing away from the fact that communal living worked for them for hundreds of years. Conflicting ideas have always been around, back to Cain and Abel. The fact that tribes split once or 100 times doesn't mean they thought the system didn't work. Even in their primitive times, they could tell the system wasn't the problem, they were.

If I can clarify any of what I was saying in that last post, it would be that I'm not 100% sure communal living or Socialism or even the exact opposites of each, are the perfect systems. There may not be a perfect system. But for me, right now, in the place I'm in, I see promise in community. I see promise in the support for and from my fellow man. I see promise in economic-conscientious thinking and acting. And I see promise in the pursuit of what all that means. My only point is that it has worked in thousands of applications over the eons, I don't see why it couldn't work now.

But like I said, it would only work for the right people. I have no desire to push my agenda onto everyone else, I just think this is where I'm headed now. And I'd welcome anyone who wants to talk about it.


Blogger Andrew said...

I totally agree with you Sam, the idea, of community is so practical. However it is exciting for me for different reasons that other people, which eventually makes for different motives and can lead to disaster. It does make sense, and it is practical.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

I agree that socialism is certainly flawed when people take advantage of it too much.

Thats why communal living in my mind should be attached to the Christian lifestyle. I had a conversation about community with Joyce Horst, a lady at my church. She kind of implied to me that I was describing socialism, and I told her that socialism is a great idea, but history has shown us that when we force socialism on others, it doesnt work at all, and can even be detrimental to society. But I think when that socialism is born out of and remains driven by the desire to live as Christ to one another, sharing in love, then it will not fail. If it is born out of self sacrifice, then greed has no place. However, sin does exist, and humans will continue to fall short, but what better place for the sinner, than with a loving community that forgives but challenges the sinner to constantly try to remove sin from their life.

sounds a bit like a monastery, I know, but there are a few big thinkers in the emergent movement that believe in the "re-monking" of the church, and I believe the role of new monasticism is going to be huge in the near future of the church, as it certainly needs to be.

But embracing community is a good idea, even if you are not going to partner it with the church.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

Community living may take on many different forms. I have lived communally many times and in many ways. As a single with other single women. As a single with a family. With just one single person and with up to eight other single women. I've lived with my parents as a child, a single adult and even for a time, my husband and children lived with my parents. Our family, husband, wife, and two children had another family, husband, wife, and five children, living with us for ten months.
Sometimes I chose the communal living because I felt God was specifically telling me to live communally. Other times it was out of financial need for myself, and sometimes for others' needs.
It could be difficult and challenging and beautiful and an opportunity to love like Jesus. I would caution anyone, that living communally, just to live communally, because it sounds cool or spiritual is not a reason to do it. It must be Spirit lead. The thing is, sometimes, the Spirit leads through the financial things, not only through an epiphany. I also, believe you don't have to live in the same house with people to live in community with them. But that's a whole other thing. Sorry I dominated. I think this is a great discussion!

10:22 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I am still very excited and anticipating the whole "communal" living venture of our lives that will happen at some point soon. I think that we have looked so much at the possible flaws and downfalls for so long that we forgot to just go ahead and go with the plans. I think that no matter what, we will be so much happier that we have gone to this way of living. Who cares about what may go wrong because in all seriousness it is easier to get thru problems if you have other people supporting you. Let's get this started Friend!

1:10 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Sam, I believe it can work and is working. If you look around (on the internet) you'll find all kinds of people forming, experimenting or dreaming of intentional communities or cohousing projects.

Check out Intentional Communities at http://www.ic.org/ for a diverse overview of this growing interest.

For a more a more distinctively Christian perspective check out Christians Living on Purpose at http://www.msainfo.org/clop.asp

You can even find a listing in Wikipedia under Intentional Community which shows how this thought is is not unique or new to us. (I was going to say "you" but was afraid I'd come off like a smart ass - which I'm kind of prone towards and is one of my spiritual gifts.)

3:48 PM  

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