The other night my husband and I watched a movie, The African Doctor. It is a 2016 French film about a newly graduated Congolese doctor who becomes the doctor for a small conservative village in France. Seyolo Zantoko struggles with his family to integrate into a small rural village and ends up being considered as one of the most respected doctors in the area. It is a heart-warming "true" story.
What I liked was the idea that community begins when Dr. Zantoko and some villagers take the risk to get to know one another. In this case, the doctor joins the men in learning to play darts at the local pub.
Makes me think about getting to know the strangers in my midst. Do I take the risk in getting to know them? Do I sacrifice time with those I already know in order to greet and meet those whom I don't? Should I?
I think there is a responsibility in community to take that risk; whether that is a group with which I am involved, my neighbors in community or in the larger world. Of course there are times when we do need to "honker down home" and regroup with people who already know us. We need the stability of established relationships to get through a patch of tough time. But to permanently settle into little isolated segments does nothing to promote understanding, connection and peace in the world.
I know that I have talked a lot about this topic on these blog postings. But it seems every where I turn I see disconnect- people not only disagreeing but violently so. Communities, cross the globe are closing in ranks and hiding behind a curtain of nationalism and isolationism.
Yet, I also see glimmers of people reaching out to one another and in doing so are forming broader communities. Perhaps it is due to a common enemy that is drawing dissimilar people together. But I would hope that it is because love always trumps hate. Love takes risks. Love takes time. Love is the only hope for society to continue.
It makes my day better knowing that I have connected to someone- whether that is a smile, kind word or long chat. Hopefully it is reciprocated- that "someone's" day has improved too in knowing that there has been a connection. It is looking for commonalities rather than differences. In The African Doctor, it was the common cause of the children and their activities that finally cemented the relationship between the Zantoko family and the village.
What about you? Do have any time this holiday weekend to connect to someone else? A long distant relative or friend? A stranger in the store? Have you seen any movies or read any books lately where these theme of connection have occurred? What were the titles? What spoke to you in these stories? Were there any truths to be gleaned?
Instead of letting things happen around you, what steps can you take to keep the means of connection open? What activities can you find that might connect you with people you wouldn't normally associate?
How would you respond if you were plunked down into a community where you didn't know anyone? How would you connect? Perhaps it is time that we all think of others in that way.