What does it mean to be a member of a community

Published 14 Mar 2017

Each of us does not live in isolation but is linked to other people in numerous, sometimes invisible ways. As we grow up, we develop many ties with different kinds of people, becoming members of many different social groups. Feeling membership of these groups makes us feel stronger due to realization that there are many people ready to help us out in case of need. To have a moral right to claim their help, we need in the first place become active community members ourselves.

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To me, being a community member means exactly that – the complex web of different social ties that attaches me to the community through different aspects of my life. All these ties involve some kind of assistance to each other so that each member can feel stronger. Speaking of my local community, a few years ago I volunteered at the day care center to help caring for children. I really enjoyed this work as it gave me so many opportunities to feel needed. Being a high school kid, I had more time than the parents of these children, so I felt it was only logical I looked after them at the time when their parents were busy at work doing things for our community and myself personally. I was thrilled when the people at the center remembered about my birthday and made a party where they took a chance to say so many nice things about how they valued my help. In turn, I felt that it was me who was really indebted to these people.

I believe community is also doing one thing in a group. When there is any serious problem concerning some of the community members, it is necessary to get together and make some joint effort because a group of people is much stronger than all of them separately. A group has a single direction where all people can direct their efforts, so their response is going to be much stronger than if all of them act as separate individuals. Being a community means being able to resolve all internal disputes when it comes to cause that is important to all members. People can act together to restore the historic monument in their locality or preserve the nature in their neighbourhood. If they unite their forces, they can transform their communities beyond recognition, making them much more interesting and fulfilling places to live in. Last year, for example, I really enjoyed helping to organise the district festival. We have a traditional festival that happens once a year in which we do exhibits of arts, decorate the place and do various charitable activities. I really enjoyed helping people with decorations and stuff for charity. I felt proud that I could be a useful person to so many people who complimented me on my work.

Community is also about equality of its members. If a community wants to become a welcoming home to all its members, it is important to make all of them feel equally at home. There should be no place for bias and prejudice, and community members have to prevent such immoral things from happening. I believe that my greatest my ability to speak common language with people of most diverse backgrounds. I do hate inequality and prejudice and am ready to stand up for any person if I find that others are treating this individual with bias because of race, origin or other qualities related to background that a person has inherited at birth and cannot change. This determination to be fair to all usually wins me a lot of friends and, I hope, relying on my past experience, makes the group of people including me a safer place in terms of being free from prejudice and premature judgments.

If one wants to become a full-fledged member of the community, one needs to consider all of the above things and ask oneself: how can I make a contribution to all these areas? Can I help others so that my assistance makes their lives brighter and more fulfilling because of what I can do? Can I really make a difference? Can I help to solve some problem that requires everybody’s attention? And can I help to eliminate prejudice and make everybody feel welcome? Answering all these questions with ‘yes’ can be difficult, but an individual needs to keep trying to make a contribution since many individual efforts make the community a comfortable place for all.

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