the way we work can really dictate our future progress as communities. So then, when we are unaware of harmful communication patterns, why don't we take direct action to re-align areas that have been derailed?

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When I was a part of a community that derailed there were a few factors that inhibited restoration (and certainly progress). They were, in no particular order, pride, apathy, and laziness. No, actually I think those are in the right order.

I think leadership is, of course, very important. But what can a person do who is not a "leader"?
If community is truly collaborative action, shall we say, then power belongs to the group not just the leaders. ALL must take responsibility for growth and forward momentum. Even a motivated leader does not a forward movement make! Or shall I say that the best leader in the world cannot fight a sluggish or commitment shy community culture.
It seems to me that part of this may be what your vision for the future is. If harmful communication and derailment take place, and no one can believe that it's possible to live free of this, then no one will be willing to take risks for something better.

Is there a way to paint a picture of what could be? Share stories of people for whom this has become a reality? Maybe camping could help with this. Sleeping bags have a little bit of magic in them.
Absolutely, Missi! My hangup is, I talk and think about "moving forward" but I don't really know TO WHAT, or HOW. (For instance, check out my blog post elsewhere on LiC!) I'm so stuck in my patterns that I don't even see what's outside them, and when I catch a glimpse, I still don't know how to get there. I've had a lot of grand feelings, like after a really moving "worship" session, or a great talk with close friends over beer, or following a very inspiring sermon. But then the feeling fades, and the insights gained slip away, ad any practical application just evaporates.

I have a broad sense of my goals for "community"--a loving, healthful life together focused toward honest non-judging emotional support, meeting of physical needs, free and courageous artistic expression, and social justice in the real world, RIGHT NOW. How to get there? Uh, I dunno--love more? give more? be more honest? do it better?

Shit, I don't know!
It's hard. That's what stops us.

About everyone I've met agrees that communicating directly is better than gossip and bitterness. But it's another thing to do it.

Most of us probably don't gossip casually. But when you've REALLY been injured by someone... when it's not about something trivial.... when your stomach starts churning and your heart starts pounding when you think about a person... that's the test.

We've got to muscle through in faith.

Faith means action. If you want to be a person who acts with authority, you must accept responsibility. "It's my job to do something about it."

Faith gives other people the benefit of the doubt... even when you're sure you know what's going on. That's judging by appearances. Faith remembers that people are not the enemy. Faith is intent on finding the positive statement... not just criticism.

Faith is the one choice that human beings really have. You can't choose your parents, your gender, your place or your time. You don't choose the color of grass or the function of your organs.

Your only choice is whether or not to take your life in your hands and cast it on the mercies of God... as opposed to protecting yourself... your feelings... your reputation... your aspirations.


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