A community is established when more than two people share the same values and through time this personal connection evolves into a fellowship governed by rituals, traditions, and a particular form of communication that when taken together makes a group of individuals whether living in a specific geographical area or connected by ideals so distinct that their distinguishing marks allow them to stand out from among the crowd. They do not just believe in something like an organization but they need each other to survive and thrive. A good example is the Old Order Amish Mennonite community wherein the community serves as source of identity, strength and provides the reason why they should sustain the community’s way of life.
It is important to understand that in order for a community to exist at least three conditions must be met: a) place; b) interest; and c) communion (Smith, p.1). There must be a territory or place where people can congregate or can be seen (Smith, p.1). The location also helps identify the community and differentiate its members from other groups. The common interests shared by the members create a tight-knit community. Some examples of interests found in communities are religion, occupation, ethnic origin and even hobbies.
Aside from location and interest one of the most important components is communion. There must be a connection between the members of a particular community. Without this communion, the coming together, a profound sharing of ideas, resources etc., there can be no community but a group of individuals banded together simply because of proximity such as those living in a gated community in an upscale neighborhood but the residents do not know each other. A more technical definition of a community was given by students of sociology who wrote:
A community is a group of people connected by the physical location in which they dwell or congregate, organizations they form, and cultural values and symbols they share. Communities are affected, and in a sense defined by, forces that affect community members and their space. The forces can range from outside organizations such as the government and large corporations … These components of the community vary infinitely, and thus no two communities are the same; even a given community is not the same over time (Cnaan & Milofsky, p. 1)
Based on this definition it is interesting to note that the Old Order Amish Mennoite community satisfies the requirements of place, interests and communion. Aside from being a perfect example of a community the Amish people exemplify what it means to be a part of a community that it is their source of identity, strength, and sustainability. Each individual exists for the community but as a whole the community nurtures each member and therefore it is unthinkable for an Amish man or woman to leave their community behind. On the other hand many Americans feel they must “get involved.” In public life as well as in private, we...