What I'm learning and observing most about community currently is with regard to the character development of authenticity. Authenticity is the desire to be real; to pursue truth. So much of how we form community is based more on appearance than truth or desire, and this is why it is difficult to add the element of authenticity into the formation of community. Here are for ideas as to why authenticity and community seem to be more polarizing than harmonizing:
1. Authenticity isn't convenient. Getting to know someone for who they really are is a lot of hard work. We have to peel back the layers of expectation, fear, confusion and cultural nuance in order to get to the core of who we are as people. It takes time, effort, investment, consistency and patience to do so. In our instant gratification based society, authenticity simply rubs us the wrong way. It forces us to slow down, take notice and listen to the lives of others. Because authenticity isn't convenient, it's often forgotten.
2. Authenticity needs to be modelled. Someone needs to take the risk of being real in order to demonstrate to others that authenticity is possible. There seem to be far too few people who are willing to risk rejecting the fake element of the human persona, making it virtually impossible for a community to pursue authenticity together. If someone would only take the risk to show their true self to their community, perhaps authentic community wouldn't be such a pipe dream perhaps.
3. Authenticity is a work in progress. This is perhaps the most frustrating dynamic in authenticity. You never "fully arrive" in being authentic...you have to constantly work at developing this as a core value of your community. For those of us who are achievers, we need to figure out how to "keep things fresh" in our pursuit of authenticity so that we don't be disillusioned by the constancy of its development.
4. Authenticity is not a growth strategy. Somewhere deep inside of each of us we have a difficult time restraining ourselves by defining success simply based on numerical statistics. While authenticity is what we might crave, it's also something we fear because of the risk of it's unappealing nature to the broader community. We like to pretend, have fun and enjoy life...so when someone tells us it's time to get serious for a moment, we might be less inclined to continue to be a part of the community, even though we long for an authentic experience.
While authenticity is difficult, I believe it is absolutely necessary in order to live a life of meaning, purpose, destiny and joy. Maybe it's time that we all choose to get real, reject the cultural nuance of being fake and find rest in what it means to be human? What do you think?
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