Community is what enables us to think beyond ourselves and have a sense of social justice. Most of the time when we speak of someone who is kind, who listens, who always seems to know the right thing to say, who seems genuinely interested in us and with whom we feel at home, we are describing a person who understands community. In this realm, community may be thought of as being composed of two specific feelings – empathy and sympathy.
Empathy is the ability to feel another person’s pain. Sympathy is feeling sorrowful that another person is suffering. These feeling can occur independently and simultaneously. Because of our capacity for empathy and sympathy, we can think beyond our immediate physical needs and creature comforts. A community minded person is not content to say, “I have mine, so now it’s every man for himself.” She looks beyond her own situation and is concerned with the welfare of others, often to the extent that she cannot be happy with what she has if she knows others have less. She wants everyone to have what they need. She knows that everyone should expect to receive a fair chance, equal opportunity, freedom from discrimination, and a full measure of equality and dignity under the law.
As a teenager, you are evolving into a broader sense of community. Just like all of your body parts fit together to make the total person – You, you in turn fit as a part of the broader community – Society. What you bring to society – positively or negatively, is what affects society. Our society will only get better when you begin to recognize that it is not all about you, but community. You can impact our community when you dare to make a difference. Fairness, equality, justice, and change do not just happen. They require you as the catalyst.
Ephesians 2:21 reminds us that God has joined together the whole structure of believers as a holy temple of the Lord. You do not have to wait until you are a senior citizen to make a difference. You can begin today.