Angel Kyodo Williams is a Zen Buddhist teacher who writes lucidly about the resources we have for staying grounded and gracious regardless of external circumstances. One of the resources she emphasizes in the book Being Black is community.
We have the power to choose not to let our beautiful diversity be a source of division amongst us. We have to see ourselves as having enormous strength because of the wealth of our resources. That wealth lies in our differences. We have so much to learn from each other based on our range of experiences. We can share our different perspectives as individuals to make the vision of the greater community wider and more inclusive. This naturally multiplies our possibilities.” —Angel Kyodo Williams
Community, more complex than unity, and definitely more than uniformity, is how Williams recognizes “those for whom we are responsible.” Being part of community is more than having an ideological tribe, and it’s more than the vehicle for peer control that some denominations use it as. Community is about shared experience and mutual responsibility, co-learning, and cooperative action.
This morning, two of my teachers shared their reflections on the power of human community and the wisdom of the collective. In her own reflection on community, Williams shares this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr:
No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and anyone who feels that he can live alone is sleeping through a revolution.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
At the heart of community are those with whom we dream, those who share and nurture imagination with us.
We simply need to stay in relationships that are substantial enough to bear that wisdom, to allow us to share fluidly with each other, and to empower us to make from our wisdom a liveable world.