The 4th Community Activity- Community Night
Humans are a social species. Although we love to watch television, there's something very thrilling about rooting for your team and sitting next to total strangers who are fans. Although movies allow us to watch very new movies, many of us enjoy the sitting in a dark cinema full of other fans and watching a long awaited movie.
Because we like each other for the most part, from time to time we have a need for company. We may not want to spend everyday with our best friends, and company is like fish...it stinks after three days, still there's something about spending time with with friends or acquaintances.
Routinely having Community Night builds community. It perpetuates itself; it builds up a sense of esprit de corps. Getting together after a SHTF scenario we'll say, “You know things are bad, genuinely bad, but we're still here.”
People need play. With so much work that our ancestors knew was drudgery, we'll REALLY need it. Throwing a silly talent show, organizing a volleyball game, making refreshments that everyone can share, having a song contest, will be desperately needed as a light against the darkness.
Just wait until you can't go to the store and buy a cherry pie. When you gather cherries and someone is kind enough to spend their time and knack to make a delicious pie when so much of your diet is the same, I'll bet your heart will leap with the excitement of eating something that once was commonplace. Sharing that on community night will be talked about and looked forward to in ways that many of you can't fathom. Talk to someone who's lived as a sojourner elsewhere, and they'll share similar stories of getting to eat something homemade that just wasn't available there.
When you have your first market days, you'll give people a teaser of that by allowing musicians to play a short bit as a draw, but saving it up for community night. People will then really look forward to it. People will practice for singing in it. People will write scripts and perform in it. You'll see.
Once I worked with some pregnant young moms and young moms with babies. They'd had a pretty tough life. Most of the time, they struggled terribly for something that had happened in an instant, and had to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives. Much of their life was work work work. Then if they wanted to go to school (or college) since they were as young as 15, they had to balance all of the normal aspects of being a teenager with a crying infant and working a job and doing homework, because without an education they were doomed. Despite that, when we organized the conference, it was full of play time, fixing their meals, allowing them to fix each other's hair and nails, all the things that a normal young teenager would take for granted that their parents did. They cried. It'd been a long time since they'd been given such a precious gift as play. They ended having a talent show that they organized and you can't believe how had they practiced just to perform for each other.
Our gifts to each other, the moments when we allow ourselves to play, the times when we create and entertain each other, are gifts we get from the Source of creation. The Source gave us the ability to create too, and more times than not, that creative energy expresses itself in messages of Hope.
All people can manage the most brutal life as long as there is Hope. The idea that someday life will get better, that we can rest, that someone will take some of our burdens, will keep the community going. Think about it, people who falter and consider suicide say the opposite, “There is no point as there is no Hope.”
Afterwards, when the mood has lifted, and people feel more inspired and hopeful, then those will be opportune times to talk about a Vision of the community. You'll be sharing the successes and failures. People will have ideas about ways to improve things. People will no doubt gripe too, but if the general mood is optimistic then that's the way most people will be.
Talking about concerns every day, and not letting them fester, will make many of those issues go away or be solved way before a community meeting. That's why it's important in whatever teams you form, be it hunting or leather scraping or teachers that you discuss things well to deal with conflict and not avoid conflict.
Still, there's an incredible power in consensus, since people want to be respected and loved, and because much of that comes from the community, these are moments when people can be honored for the work they've done to help others. Most of the time will be spent building each other up, and only on very rare occasions will special community meetings happen for censure.
When I've worked with young people, I often began with a conference with, “In a perfect group, how would people be treated?” Almost always people say the same things. Respect regardless of appearance. Being thanked. Having a role that helps others and carries their burdens when they can't do it. Not being afraid.
Then having voiced that, we lived into it. We did that, everyday, in every way in order to both get work done, but honor each other, still respecting the chain of command, but giving people respect when they earned it. That kind of community is possible, but takes a lot of work to reverse years of the opposite. You cannot believe how few times there were issues over a twenty year period. A handful at most, and these were usually misunderstandings and easily dealt with by positive peer pressure. The community helps discipline itself.
Most of the time, the kids treated each other with such kindness and tenderness regardless of who was fat or who was plain or who hadn't developed breasts yet or who was scrawny or who was this race or who was dirt poor. It really works. Almost everyone, no matter how talented at sports, or beautiful, or wealthy has been mocked by their appearance. It is universal. Somehow knowing that people will mostly respect each other, people will be their best selves.
Tearing each other down is part of an unhealthy society. Societies that tear each other down lead to chaos and destruction. Aren't we seeing that play out on the news everyday?
The worst punishment we can ever apply is solitary confinement. Except for a few individuals, most people desperately need company and positive reinforcement and a role helping each other. Unless people have deep seated issues (and you'll have some unhealthy people in your community), most people will be so glad to be in an environment where they are welcome, that despite hard work, they'll be much better than normal.
Don't get me wrong. Life in a SHTF community won't be a Camp Kumbaya. It will be harsh and brutal and people will die. Many terrible cruel things will happen to the best and worst of people. Life will be terribly unfair. Still...for those who can pull together and help each other, life will get better and more stable by using shared resources and talents. Community Night will help that process along.