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Considering Definitions of Community - Essay Example

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Subject English 105 – English Composition I Topic Considering Definitions of “Community” Title The Places We Live Reflection Among many definitions of “community” provided by the august Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is one which perhaps is most easily and commonly used in today’s world…
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Considering Definitions of Community
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Download file to see previous pages In my experience, the need to be identified as part of a community because of where you are is at best aimed at preservation of the status quo, and at worst a means for people to tie you into controlling relationships, in which they can be sure that they remain in charge. The sharing of a common cultural or ethnic identity may not necessarily mean that people gravitate to the same places anymore, but the combination of these common characteristics and a closed, inescapable location, even if it is just in the mind, can be deadly. Little villages across the world force their inhabitants to think, to look like, to feel, even to believe the same as everyone else in the village. Cities are often identifiable by the apparently common behaviors of their inhabitants – New Yorkers are businesslike, driven, and high achievers, for example. And we go even further – the Italians are romantic and stylish, or the Canadians are parochial and eco-conscious. On the face of it, this idea of being in the same place seems to lend us a sense of security, and a way to identify with others. Just, for a moment, however, consider the full implications of thinking this way. “In this neighborhood, we take care of each other” – just another way to indicate that we are all similar here, hold the same values, and are very likely to persecute and eventually get rid of you if you are not exactly like we are. “Our community is a caring one and we will always reach out to others, to make their lives easier and better” – so, we are better than others morally, our lives are superior to those of others, and we will emphasize the fact that we have more materially than anyone around us. Someone cynical would argue that living in the same place exposes you to the danger of becoming the same as everyone else in that place: and that means taking on the good and the bad, the prejudices and the preconceptions; the loves and the hates. Perhaps this is what happened when Nazism engulfed Germany, or genocide destroyed Rwanda. So, I think that we are losing the idea that a common location is needed to define community, and not a moment too soon. Not that we have rid ourselves of the dangers of strictly identifying ourselves as part of a community, however. The community of right-wing white supremacists is now connected across the world, through the Internet. But so is the community of “green activists” focusing on the planet’s continued healthy existence. “Place” has been replaced by common ethics, points of view and, of course, prejudices, in forming a sense of community, thanks to globalization and the spread of communications technology. Communities now identify themselves in the same ways as they have throughout history. Individuals who share religious points of view define themselves by that religion no matter where they are in the world. A community of women, opposed to oppression by men exists internationally. A community of human rights activists is able to exert pressure in every corner of the globe, with support for causes independent of location. A central European, aware of human rights abuses in Tibet can make his or her voice heard to the government of China, even if it is just by signing one Internet petition. I can form my own community – and the OED supports this definition – by starting a blog, and finding that the people who read my blog in effect from a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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