Communities

I am such a Gonzaga student. It’s Monday night, I’m done with my not so terrible amount of homework (senior year isn’t so bad sometimes) and all I want to do is write about the inspiration of community. Jesuit education, ya got me.

I was indulging in one of my many shameful pleasures (totally a subject of its own) of watching documentaries on crimes and criminals today and it totally got me thinking. Damn you, psychological mind. What is it that makes these people crack? The age-old question, amiright? These fascinating monsters of society who rape, rob, steal, kill, hijack, manipulate, fool, and downright terrify the rest of “normal” society. Is it in their blood? Is environment to blame? We are always debating these two critical factors in my psychology classes and there has never been a definite answer. But each one of these God-forsaken souls–Hitler, Dahmer, and all the rest–all had a realization at some point that they were alone. Totally and completely alone. What a complete poison that can be to a human mind. I mean, after all, isn’t that one premise for suicide and depression today? It is so pathetically tragic to witness the complete unraveling of a human psyche as a result of isolation. And honestly, I don’t know if I could blame them. There is so much scientific evidence that suggests that we are creatures of connection and community.

The worse realization by which to come is the fact that, on some level, our society today indirectly encourages this isolation. We all have our own iPhones. We all have our own circle of friends, our own education, our own sexuality, our own rights. But sometimes it seems that we forget that among all of these “individual” things we possess, one of them is responsibility. “With much privilege comes much responsibility”. Isn’t that the truth though? It is so the easy option to be buried under all of these individual privileges and forget that we have the responsibility to be present to the world in which we belong. Environmentally, mentally, physically, professionally, personally. Archbishop Desmond Tutu quoted in one of my favorite documentaries “We are because we belong” and I honestly think there is nothing truer. These criminals all have in common one thing among the varying circumstances by which they came to their way of life. They all felt at one time like the world around them failed to meet their needs. We all have needs that need to be met, some of us are just more blessed to have these needs met by the beautiful communities around us. We are all called to so much more than the failure represented in every human-caused tragedy.

I have love for these criminals. I have an enormous amount of pity, but nonetheless I have love. They are part of the community in which I exist and have just as much of a right to be loved as anyone. Yet at one point, they were not and while chemical imbalances in the brain may have contributed, they felt they did not receive the love they needed to thrive. And the worst part is that we spit on these people. We look at them as a lesser species. But is it really valid to say that none of us sin? Is it really valid for us to say that we do not have some of the same insecurity and doubt that they must have had?

Point is, we were not meant to live alone. We were meant to live and move and thrive in a supportive community. This may just be one psychologically-minded undergraduate girl’s perspective, but I have can honestly say I’ve seen the unbelievable power of a simple community. It doesn’t take money to make people happy, or power or fame. All it takes is validation and respect from the community to which one belongs. If people believe in us, we can make it happen. If people love us, we are able to learn from that and go on to love another. And yes, there is vulnerability in that. And blind faith. But it has been proven time and time again. I see it every day in my beautiful Gonzaga community. In churches, schools, homeless shelters, families, friends. Community is power. Solidarity is power. Being part of a larger group built on foundations of respect and compassion can work miracles. I truly believe that. And I’m profoundly sorry that there have been so many people who haven’t been able to witness that for themselves.

A little scattered, but such is my brain and I’m okay with it.

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