Sunday 25 Mar 2012

Community and Communication

Involved in our continuing mission and covenant discussions, we ended up postponing our scheduled service to next week.

In genuine community there are no sides. It is not always easy, but by the time they reach community the members have learned how to give up cliques and factions. They have learned how to listen to each other and how not to reject each other. Sometimes consensus in community is reached with miraculous rapidity. But at other times it is arrived at only after lengthy struggle. Just because it is a safe place does not mean community is a place without conflict. It is, however, a place where conflict can be resolved without physical or emotional bloodshed and with wisdom as well as grace. A community is a group that can fight gracefully.

That this is so is hardly accidental. For community is an amphitheater where the gladiators have laid down their weapons and their armor, where they have become skilled at listening and understanding, where they respect each others’ gifts and accept each others’ limitations, where they celebrate their differences and bind each others’ wounds, where they are committed to a struggling together rather than against each other. It is a most unusual battleground indeed. But that is also why it is an unusually effective ground for conflict resolution.

The significance of this is hardly slight. There are very real conflicts in the world, and the worst of them do not seem to go away. But there is a fantasy abroad. Simply stated, it goes like this: “If we can resolve our conflicts, then someday we shall be able to live together in community.” Could it be that we have it totally backward? And that the real dream should be: “If we can live together in community, then someday we shall be able to resolve our conflicts”?

Read the whole chapter from Scott Peck’s A Different Drum, on conflict, community, and communication: