BUILDING BLOCKS TO BETTER COMMUNITIES
As I have traveled across the country and examine the state of communities, I have found myself profoundly saddened by the decline that is occuring in our communities. Our communities are being plagued by: violence, teen pregnancy, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, failing schools, fatherless homes, broken families, addiction, drugs, sexual immorality, dilapidated housing, & crime. Communities have always been the birthplace of: diversity(racial, cultural, social, political), creativity, social movements, family, spirituality, entrepreneurship, and economy which has served as the heartbeat of democracy within the United States.
If we are to rebuild and reinvest in our communities, there are a number of building blocks which I believe are necessary to create a sustainable and safe community that benefits all of its citizens. The cornerstone of every community must be: structurally sound, spiritually centered, socially conscious, educationally proficient, environmentally sensitive, financially invested, democratically driven, & judiciously equitable.
A structurally sound community must provide a resilient and robust infrastructure to provide the necessary services to support the members of its community; services such as: housing, roads, business, schools, telecommunications, water, hospitals,and utilities which represent "the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions.(Wikipedia)". A structurally sound community is a foundationally sustainable community!
The heartbeat and essence of every community must be spiritually centered. A community based upon spiritual values will be a community that promotes the values of: love, peace, harmony, and a reverent respect for God. It will function with an awareness of its call, duty, and responsibility to see its citizens live in the image and likeness of God. This community will be destiny focused, legacy minded, & spiritually positioned to leave behind an inheritance where God will be glorified.
Change has never occurred without a socially conscious community who believed in the equality of all its citizens. Equality not based upon ones ethnicity, culture, or status; but based upon the inherent belief that everyone has something to contribute to its community. It's a community advocating for the impoverished and the disenfranchised, knowing that anyone affected by injustice directly, affects the whole community indirectly. Rehan Dawer states, "social consciousness is founded on an awareness of the ethical effects of one's decisions and actions. The socially conscious individual is aware of the ripple effect of our actions on local and global communities, from business decisions and government policies to volunteer work and interactions with people in our own communities. The socially conscious individual exhibits an awareness of the necessity for an ethical approach toward the decision-making processes that shape our lives and the lives of others. By developing an ethical and social accountability toward ourselves and others, socially conscious individuals can strive for a practical, purpose-driven existence based on the values and principals of improving the social good and achieving lasting social change." Ghandi summarizes the importance of being socially conscious by stating, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Communities require educationally proficient institutions to produce the next generation of thought leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and visionaries if it is to create a sustainable community. The goal of education must not only be to educate but create critical thinkers, strategic thinkers, and problem solvers. Every community should be focused on creating an educational culture which will challenge our students to discover their gifts, provide highly competent teachers, and challenging curriculum. "Intelligence plus character; that is the true goal of education." (Martin Luther King Jr.)
In addition, there has to be an environmental sensitivity to the conditions of one's community ie. crime, pollution etc. An unhealthy environment will create an unhealthy community. There should be a significant focus on the type of environment a community wants to create; an environment which gives all of its citizens an opportunity to thrive, grow, express, and live freely.
Furthermore, a financially invested community is a community that does not simply invest in buildings, budgets, and business; but is invested in it's people. Investing in people is investing in community! There must be a paradigm shift which emphasizes the importance of investing in human capital. Investing in people will create a sustainable economy and retain its talented members of its community to be life long citizens. The goal of any financially invested community is to focus on job creation, not job elimination. A community can only thrive when it seeks to invest in families!
Democratically driven communities govern by allowing it's citizens to live freely and equitably in which elected officials are vested in people. The United States was founded with the forefather's belief as stated in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Finally, judiciously equitable communities enact laws that protect all of its citizens. Laws that show no biases based upon race, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status, but seek to promote truth, justice, and harmony for all of it's citizens.
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