Great communities are examples to follow. They demonstrate how a group of individuals can work together for a common goal. Also, they represent progress and development, be it social, political, technological, or economic.
With that in mind, let us look at three key aspects of building better communities.
Morality and Human Values
The key ingredient to any prosperous society is its members. It is neither the conditions under which they live nor the existing infrastructure behind their activities. Rather, it is they themselves, their processes, and their beliefs.
For instance, technological development is useless and even counterproductive when placed in the wrong hands. In contrast, when used the right way, a way guided by righteousness and collective welfare, it can do wonders. It can help us improve as human beings and make our lives easier, more enjoyable, and convenient.
But how does one do it? How can a group of individuals create fraternities of men and women who do the right thing, regardless of the circumstances? While there are different ways to answer these and other questions, it starts with a principle-based Catholic social education, one centered on moral values like basic human dignity, solidarity, and subsidiarity. One that focuses on the unique value every human being represents to society, fosters kinship and love for the common good, and understands the importance of decision-making at the right level.
When firing on all cylinders, these communities thrive irrespective of the situation they find themselves in, and everybody is satisfied and happy.
Paying It Forward
In simple terms, the word sustainability is defined as the ability to maintain something at a certain level or rate. For example, if I am the proud owner of an enterprise and sales figures either remain the same or increase steadily over a period, my firm is sustainable.
In recent years, we have seen a shift in how the term is used. Instead of encompassing all areas of society, it is most often used to describe the ecological balance that results from a cease in the depletion of our natural resources.
When it comes to community building and growth, few things are more important. After all, it doesn’t matter how great an apartment complex, neighborhood, district, city, or country is if it is only us who can enjoy the benefits, not our children and grandchildren. As such, the goal should be twofold.
First, we must make efficient use of the resources we have at our disposal. This includes natural ones like oil, metals, air, sunlight, and water. Second, we need to have the wisdom and foresight to think long-term. We need to ask ourselves how our present decisions will influence those after us and whether our choices generate long-lasting blessings, not just temporary ones.
You Scratch My Back…
One of the many lessons the covid-19 global pandemic has taught us is that if we want to see the end of the tunnel, we can be neither independent nor dependent on each other. Rather, we should act as an interdependent global community, one in which our skills, knowledge, and resources are leveraged, and synergies are created among participants.
At a local level, this entails several things. First, we must generate awareness of what we are capable of doing. For example, if you are a doctor, physiotherapist, dentist, or another kind of physician, you should let those in your building know about this. The same goes for lawyers, linguists, engineers, and so on.
Second, we must try to find common grounds between skills and the interchanging of knowledge. If you’re a language instructor, you can offer lessons to those living close to you in exchange for their services in medicine, law, or education. In this case, what community members are doing is creating a circle of information and know-how, one that benefits not only the individual but the entire group as well.
Naturally, nobody knows everything. But as long as someone within the community does, it does not matter. Where some might be lacking, others can step in and vice versa.
As we can see, there are several avenues we can take for the betterment of the communities we live in. Three of the most important ones are a morality-based education that focuses on human values and doing the right thing, paying it forward for the generations to come, and skill-sharing among members to advance the group as a whole.
By proactively engaging in these activities, we can gain individual prosperity and build stronger, more resilient communities regardless of whether we are in times of affluence or economic and social uncertainty.