3. Community as social reality

The building-blocks of a global community as a social reality are, as with any other community, what I call ‘the 4Ss’.   That is people experiencing a sense of security, of significance, of solidarity and shaped by socialization.

The first three Ss are feelings which hold collectives together – where they’re strong, community is strong; where they’re weak, community is weak.

A sense of security is about having a place to stand without fear or anxiety.  It is about being physically and materially secure – about freedom from violence or want.

A sense of significance is about having a role to play – it is about having a sense of self-worth because who you are or what you do are affirmed and validated by those whose opinion you respect and value.   It is about the satisfaction and fulfilment experienced by being a mother, a teacher, a health visitor, a refuse collector, a bank manager, a bishop…  Such roles can be formal and structured, or informal, like that of friend, carer, orator or joker.

A sense of solidarity springs from the experience of togetherness – it is about having a world, small or large, to which we feel we belong.   It is akin to fellow-ship and friend-ship.   It bonds together people within a wide diversity of collectives, small and large – from the family to the city, the workplace to the nation.

Socialization is the process by which we learn to recognize, experience and make the other 3Ss our own. It is shaped by history, upbringing and a host of other environmental and cultural factors.

No collective can exist – be a social reality – unless its members to some degree experience the first 3Ss, internalised by means of the fourth S.   Whatever the collective’s task may be, whether manufacturing widgets or packing chocolates, producing cars or servicing hoovers, without some sense of community, it will sooner or later disintegrate.

In principle, a strong global community is one in which all smaller collectives are communally strong.   Yet however communally strong these smaller collectives may be, by themselves they are not enough to ensure the emergence and sustainability of a global community.  This is because we first have to address and resolve the communal dilemma (Page 4).

February 2017