Several hundred years ago the average person never travelled more than one hundred miles away, in their lifetime, from their place of birth. Let’s face it, transportation at that time consisted of horse or on foot. Unless you were searching for a better place to live in order to survive, your time would have been spent working the land or in a trade to sustain yours and your families lives. No much time left over in a day to venture out and see the world. So most spent their life within a village or town and lived out their days.
Originally, humans attached themselves into tribes. Small groupings of humans, usually with a familial connection, with the common desire of protection. Safety in numbers worked best against wild animals and other marauding tribes. But as humans developed agriculture, communities began to form. Soon folks within that community created defined roles that contributed to the growth and betterment of the collective and life became a little easier for everyone because each person’s skill contributed to the whole.
As these communities knitted together, a common set of rules, morals and outlooks on life developed. Partly to keep the peace and partly because there were common goals uniting the village. And so the group became interdependent, each relying on the other for support and prosperity.
Now fast forward to today, 55% of the worlds population lives in a city. According to the UN, by 2050 two thirds of us will be living in a city with over one quarter of that number living in a city with over 1 million people in it. You’d have to agree that it has become near impossible to sustain the model of a interdependent and commonly united community with that many souls living and working in that great of number.
Right now we are feeling the effects of this great population migration from small rural communities to large urban centres. To add to the shift, culture in recent decades has developed into a “me first” or an independent outlook. We no longer rely on our neighbour to contribute their share to the community. They are too busy getting their own to consider what you may need and so we have become a sea of individual souls all working independently of each other but ultimately striving for exactly the same thing – peace, prosperity, security and a better life.
Where, you may ask is she going with this? What does this have to do with me?
Ask yourself this: Do you have a core group of friends and family? Can you rely on them with out question to have your back should a crisis happen to you? Do the individuals in your posse each play a role within the larger group and contribute to the cohesiveness of the whole? Can you identify which member is the leader, the organizer, the fixer, the emotional supporter, the wise one, the teacher, the entertainer, the planner?
If you can, then you have your community but you may be surprized, not everyone does. This is where society as a whole is suffering in the shift to the new urban migration. One need only to look at the number of souls inhabiting the doorways and corners of our communities. Folks who are suffering, lost, addicted and with out community. People who have no support network and because we are currently a society of individuals, all focused on looking out for number one instead of contributing to the collective to make us all stronger, we are seeing the stragglers falling behind and getting lost – although in plain site.
One observation I’ve made is the prevalence of young males I see begging out in the streets. It reminds me of when you see a young male animal left too early by it’s mother to forage for itself and ends up scrounging around the edges of society for garbage scraps instead of carving out a territory for itself. It does not have enough skill yet to be independent and is loured instead to an easy fix for food.
Were these young men kicked out of the nest too early? Did they not have the skills needed to carve out their own territory in life? Is this an outcome of a huge generation of males being raised by a mother alone with little or no male guidance to give them the male skills needed to survive out in the world. Where is their community?
Cities are a diverse amalgamation of cultures. It is not unusual to have pockets within a city of specific races. Little villages within a greater urban centre holding on to an identity and heritage but venturing out into the greater whole of the city for work, entertainment and adventure. In terms of ecology, a community is a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat. This is essentially what a large city is. So to survive in a larger centre, the individual will need to find their own group and form an interdependent organism or community that then works interdependently with the larger habitat or city.
This is the shift that culture is making right now and we are seeing the challenges and strife in our world because of it. Whole groups of different cultures moving into urban centres trying to assimilate into the whole, trying to enjoy the individual freedoms that a big city may offer but also striving to hold on to their original identity.
But who is getting lost in the migration shuffle? It is the ones with no community to support them and it is those people who are creating the perceived and real challenges and strife in our cities.
Humans are tribal by nature. For the most part, we thrive within a group, we are social creatures. As the saying goes, “No man is an island.” We yearn to be seen, to be heard, to be understood but especially, to be loved. By our very nature and the nature of universal energy, we are interconnected. It is not natural for us to be alone. We need to be connected to the energy field of life. So when a person is disconnected to community by addiction, homelessness, even the loss of their homeland, they become disconnected to the very universal community that fuels their personal energy field with the basic needs we all yearn for.
There is a reason society once focused on family first. It is the core of community. Whether it be an organic family unit, or one you choose to be a member of, it is ground zero for the health of the individual. We need to attach ourselves to a tight group of friends and family first then spread our tentacles of influence out into the neighbourhood around us – to the village within a bigger community. Because to live in a healthy city means to have strong smaller communities within it, all contributing to the whole.
Life is not meant to be lived alone. Find your tribe. Surround yourself with people who contribute to your well being – who have your back. In turn, contribute to their well being as well. When you become part of an interdependent organism, it does not matter where you find yourself in this great big world, you will never be lost because you will always have your own person community.