I've always been a supporter of keeping things as simple as possible. Of course I am also capable of making anything more complicated than it needs to be; but there is an implicit beauty that can be found in simplicity. So when I looked up the definition of "community," I read many different versions. However, I was struck by the simplicity of the one in Webster's dictionary: a unified body of individuals.

Now why, you may be asking, was I looking up the definition of "community"? Well, it's simple, really. I attended a local production of The Sound of Music.

I'd like to tell you that, after seeing the play, I had all sorts of profound thoughts about the patriotism of loyal Austrians or what psychological processes would cause the masses to align themselves with Hitler's Nazi Party or what the formula is for creating a perfect blended family. The truth, however, is that following the play I heard a voice in my head say, "Now that was community theater at its best!"

That simple thought wasn't the result of a flawless performance. There were missed cues, off-pitch notes, and scenery change glitches. Neither did the thought come from everyone in the cast, crew and orchestra sharing the same social, economic, religious, political, professional, or academic values. Their age differences and diverse backgrounds precluded any such uniformity.

No, what made this performance so endearing was seeing that unified body of individuals hold together, support one another, and create an integrated performance that reflected something greater than any of them brought to the stage individually. They were still individuals with all the diversity of gifts, flaws, quirks and beliefs that individuality brings. However, they still managed to become a unified body.

What would the world be like if we could learn to create such unified bodies in all areas of our society, and not just at the Community Theatre? Clearly, it doesn't take giving up individuality to make it happen.

  • How do you define "community"?
  • Do you ever confuse "being unified” with "achieving uniformity"?
  • Can differences actually contribute to the strength of a community?
  • What part will you play in establishing community around you?

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About David Bentley

Avatar_DavidBentleyDavid Bentley, M.Ed., is an avid observer of people, places and events. He uses his storytelling and questioning skills to help himself and others think outside the box in an ever-changing world.

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© 2014 David Bentley