If Not Now, Then When? Finding our way back to community

Nancy KalinaI was home alone on Friday, November 13, when I received a phone call from a friend alerting me to the tragic attacks happening in France. Immediately, I turned on CNN to discover the atrocities that had happened earlier that day but were just coming over U.S. airwaves. I sat in shock and with a tad of disbelief, but mostly I felt two things: profound sadness and a strong desire for community.

I turned the TV off because I learned a great lesson after 9/11: watching the news nonstop is neither helpful nor healthy for me as an individual. To fulfill my desire to connect, I made two phone calls to check in with my mom and to call my friend back. After that, I turned to Facebook as a larger opportunity for community that night.

While Facebook can be amazingly artificial, one of its redeeming qualities is that it offers some sense of community. However, I want to be clear that this is not real community. Community offers connection. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown (2010) defines connection as the “energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” (p. 19). She goes on to state that we as human beings are wired for connection. It’s in our biology. Definitively, she states “from the time we are born, we need connection to thrive emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually” (2010, p. 19). I would also add that we as human beings need community, connection, and a sense of belonging for healing.

While on one hand, technology connects humans more than ever before, on the other, we are the least-connected humans who have ever walked the planet. We don’t gather. We don’t see people face to face. We don’t share our grief and sorrows with others. We hide in our bedrooms to cry. We take one week off for bereavement and then return to work. People don’t talk to you about your loss because they don’t know what to say. So, grief is ignored. I know this odd experience too well from when my father was killed. Sure, there were brave people who stepped out of their comfort zones to check in with me, but most people were back to work as if nothing had happened. I found people behaving in the same odd manner with the Beirut and Paris atrocities. On Saturday, I found myself desiring to connect on a deeper level with my yoga class or others only to find that no one was talking. And I didn’t speak up either. Now, it’s possible that people were unaware of what had happened, and I accept that. Since then, I have begun to step up and talk and check in with people on how they feel about what is going on in the world. This has felt much better to me and far more real. I’m not hiding any longer, and I’m giving people permission to share their very real grief.

On the night of the Paris attacks, Francis Weller’s article “The Geography of Sorrow” supported me through the night and helped me understand my deep desire for connection and community. I would like to share this powerful article with you, as well as his book The Wild Edge of Sorrow I ordered the next morning.

I encourage you all to find communities where you feel a sense of belonging. Through community, you can truly be yourself and share yourself fully during good times and tough times. Connection and community are part of our history as human beings. It’s time to reclaim our history and come back to community.



Until next time,

Safe Space Life Coaching

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