What is community?
Since moving from NSW to QLD, I have found difficulty calling 4500 or 4501 my community.
Communities in this part of Qld are attached more specially to all the different churches. Should you belong to one, there are many activities on offer.
The first time I moved to Qld, I lived in a small street. Bright and early I put out my garbage bin in the same way I did in NSW. Later on, other neighbours put theirs out. The next morning all bins were emptied except for mine. I was outraged. The neighbour opposite was outside, and I complained to him. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “it should be the other way”.
I rang the council and they fixed it up the next day. I could not believe NO ONE mentioned it to me the day before. They all have “neighbourhood watch” plaques attached to their house. Do they know what it means?
In Morisset NSW, someone would ring and say, “just to let you know the water is being cut at 10 am, so gather all the water you can”. Or a couple offered me a lift from the station because it was raining. Yet, I had only met them once before. I can give many other examples. THIS IS NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH.
Neighbours in my area, even though we live in a complex, are somewhat strangers. Most houses have locked gates; to see and speak to any neighbour happen via chance meetings.
That set me thinking about what true community is.
As a former nun, I have been part of 9 different communities. On comparing them, two stand out in my mind.
The first is where I wanted to be. I embraced everything it offered and to the best of my abilities, I gave all I had to help make the community a good place to be. I was fully alive, and no one could hide. We were there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 12 months of the year. It was challenging and rewarding.
The second community which impressed me was the one in Kalgoorlie. It was different from the other 7 from the same organization. The norm was to reject all participation from other communities even from the same church. Not so with Kalgoorlie.
Life is hard in that part of Australia, and this resulted in a true wider community because we all faced the same harshness of living in that area. It made the need real within our own small community. Apart from 3 Australian sisters, all the others were from other countries. What also bonded this one community was the one in charge. She actively showed respect for all and in return, we all respected her.
In conclusion, from my personal observation, I venture to say, that true community needs to encompass a variety of people with real acceptance and respect of all differences that surely exist.