Final Paper--Question #2

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Women Living Well - 2004

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Final Paper--Question #2

Katherine Quah

As individuals, we have a vital role in shaping the communities that we are a part of. The decisions that we make, the interactions that we have with other people and the way in which we choose to live our lives all have an impact upon our environment. No two people necessarily view the world in the same way, and therefore every community is distinct due to its very members. The interactions and actions that are produced by community members become to be what defines each community and serves to individuate one community from the next. Communities also come to be defined by the expectations of its members, the rules they set out for themselves and the values that they share.

Because people may have different perspectives on the world or approaches to their lives, there may often be disagreement and tensions may arise. Those on the fringes of a community may feel alienated while those in the majority cannot see the effects of their own actions. It is therefore important for community members to treat one another with respect and acknowledgment, despite whatever individual differences they may have. Although it may be uncomfortable to have to deal with tensions in relationships and within a community, disagreement can also be healthy and work to make the community a better one.

When there is an argument over a certain issue or action, people may often come to better understand and appreciate the different viewpoints of those in opposition to them. Tensions can be useful in expanding our own understanding of how we feel, while leading us to evaluate our own feelings and exploring our own perspectives. And by disagreeing with others within our own community, we learn to recognize what is important and what is not, and how to live with one another despite our differences. Tensions can thus be said to help mediate discussion, while leading people to understand the members of their own community in a better way.

On the other hand, tensions may often be too much for one community to handle. If a serious split in group thinking occurs, communities may often form sub-communities or break from one another entirely. This may occur when people realize that they are incapable of living together peacefully or when values conflict to the point of incompatibility. When mutual respect for one another is lost, tensions between group members may become too unbearable for the group to exist as the group it was previously. In this regard, tensions can come to define a group almost as much as peaceful interactions can. While there are some circumstances where it may be best for a community to go their separate ways, ideally communities will try to reconcile their differences in order to form a stronger sense of belonging and a greater appreciation of one another.

By providing each other with a sense of respect, communities may be able to bridge their differences and grow more cohesive. Fostering creative thinking, appreciation of others, as well as tolerance and acceptance, groups may grow closer while still recognizing the value of the differences that exist among its members. By recognizing that individuals are valuable because of their individuality, while coming together in celebration of the larger group, communities can create a supportive and caring environment for their members.

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