After the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009 a strong sense of community was discovered, the displays of sympathy, volunteering or donations was inspirational and all in support of people they didn’t know. The same thing has recently happened in the US in response to Hurricane Sandy with people banding together to support each other. It is wonderful to see, but why do we need a crisis to create a sense of community?
I have been wondering why this happens and I suspect it has got something to do with the fact that we simply don’t know how to relate to strangers in the street, we don’t know what we have in common with them and we don’t know how to find common ground.
Think about that first glance in the street, you see someone and instantly you identify all the reasons that you don’t have anything in common with them – in short you identify the differences. They have a different hair/skin/eye colour, they speak a different language, they have a different style, and they just seem different – so how could you relate to them?
While it is easy to spot difference, it is not nearly as interesting as spotting the similarities. Why not look at that person and find what you have got in common. At the most superficial level they are people, they are walking on the same street as you, perhaps they are reading the same book as you, their favourite movie may be the same as yours, they no doubt love their family the way that you do – in fact apart from hair colour and a few other differences, chances are they are the very same as you.
So when looking to create connection in good times (rather than waiting for an emergency) why not find ways to identify with the people you meet every single day.
Think same and different.