What is Community? There are many definitions, but there are two that I like and believe are especially fitting as they pertain to America herself.
First, a community is the people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; a society. But secondly, community is also a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. These definitions are important when it comes to understanding the American community. As Americans, we have responsibilities not just to our society, but to each other. For all Americans and all who want to be an American, the biggest responsibility is to preserve the rights given to us under the constitution. The concerns for common attitudes, interests, and goals are taken care of when you look at America and the Constitution as more than just a country and the rule of law.
This is the reason America is the beacon of hope for many people around the world. America is not just a country; it is a way of life created by the constitution. It tells us more than how to govern ourselves. It is a guideline on how to sustain the free society we live in; it implies how all people should be treated; it implies the life that all people should be able to live. Because of this, the constitution, and by extension America, portrays, while not perfect, an ideal way of life. This way of life, despite the cultural diversity in the country, influences common attitudes, interests, and goals. These things, plus our responsibility to live as the constitution states, are what make up the American Community. So, why is this idea of the American community so important?
Well, today this country appears to be more divided than ever. While there are many factors, if we look at the divide in the country now, it simply stems from differences in ideals, values, and morals-or at least we behave as if that’s the case. In reality, because we are Americans, most of us share many of the same values and morals regardless of the diversity of cultures. Because we are Americans, there are social (American) values that we share along with common interests, goals, and responsibilities for our free society as stated previously. It is in our ideals and disagreements over those ideals in which our differences lie. In fact, if you break things down even more, the division isn’t even due to our differences. It is due to the fact that many of us seem to no longer respect those differences.
Since this country's founding, the idea that it is okay to agree to disagree has been one of the things that has shaped our society. Someone could respect the fact that someone had differing beliefs without respecting those beliefs themselves. We can no longer do this it seems, and I understand why. Right now, this country is in a war of ideas. For those on the Left and Right, the opposing view appears as a threat to their own. As a result, some Americans have become hypersensitive to protecting their ideals. They no longer take the time to examine the character of those who disagree with them. As a result, they do not only disrespect a person’s differing views but they disrespect the person who holds them.
For others, they are the ones who are disrespected and feel that if someone disrespects them due to their beliefs then why should they be respectful in return. This often evolves not only into disrespect for one person but also towards others who hold common or similar beliefs to that person. As a result, we now find ourselves in a time where people are disrespectful to people they don’t even know solely based on what they believe. This has led to people on both sides who are either consciously or unconsciously attempting to restrict the speech of different views or are borderline doing so. It has led to the destruction of people’s mental states, the destruction of property, and for some, the
destruction of their lives or livelihoods.
For many, this plague of disrespectful behavior and outright lack of human decency has led many to believe that this free society and their rights are being threatened. So what is the remedy to this problem we find ourselves in now? Well, the most obvious thing to me is that America, as a nation, has lost its sense of community. In some form we have become selfish individuals. The responsibilities that we should have for each other as Americans have now become partially or none of our responsibilities. We are only concerned with preserving rights as they pertain to us or smaller, similar, communities of thought. To remedy this dis-attachment, we must first acknowledge the responsibilities we have to our society most importantly to each other.
This country's inability to have conversations has now led to, in some form, our not being able to respect people’s differences and this alone can stifle speech. One of our responsibilities as Americans is to protect and preserve free speech. This cannot be done if we can’t respect the fact that people have differing views. More so, this cannot be done if we can’t respect people solely due to the fact that they have differing views. This is applicable to many things, not just free speech: free speech is just where the issue is most prominent. Along with responsibilities, we must see that even though we have differing ideals, most Americans have similar morals, values and strive for the same “better America.” We just want to achieve it in different ways and this often distracts us from what is really important. Once we acknowledge this, I believe the country will begin to restore its sense of community. We must acknowledge these things.
It is the recognition of our responsibilities and our commonalities that makes up the American community. The American community is what sustains our free society. Without the community, there is no America. So in order to overcome the things we now see as threats to our rights, we must all work to restore the American community.
Written by Tyler Sanders