We all belong to some type of community, whether it be your workplace, a hobby or the street you live on, we all belong to something.
No truer for me has this been than over the summer; I’ve felt a part of many different groups over this past few weeks, from the obvious to the more surprising places.
My Dad is a motorcyclist and we decided to go ride his bike up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and camp for a few days, visiting the local attractions like the ski resort and nearby town. The drive only lasted four hours but during that time you’re alone with the helmet sheltering you from the world and just the sound of wind for company; you’d think it’s a very solitary event and yet… the theme of this article is community… how could I have possibly felt like part of a community isolated on the back of a motorbike?
As we weaved and winded through the mountains we passed many other motorbike riders. Unable to talk and swiftly passing by each other, it would seem hard to feel linked to other riders but with a simple ‘wave’ drivers would lower their hands indicating a seemingly hello or sign of respect to other riders. Even with the helmet, the total isolation surrounded by wind and at 80km/h people have found a way to relate, we passed Spanish, a few fellow English and an unrecognised licence plate and yet this non-verbal communication surpasses above that and ties the community of bike riders together. When I asked my Dad about it he just shrugged and said it’s what you do, like an unwritten rule between riders who pass each other for a split second.
Some interactions last longer though, in late July the World Scout Jamboree began in West Virginia, an event that brought over 45,000 young people from 152 different countries together for 10 days of cultural exchange in a way that’s been compared to the people of the Olympics meeting the atmosphere of Glastonbury. It’s an opportunity that allows us to meet, talk and share with people from all across the globe, an opportunity where we can safely strike up a conversation with almost anyone we see, at first seemingly only united in our involvement with Scouting yet when discussions start, we realise just how many similarities we all have, for 10 days we became a community of Scouts all excited to meet each other, get involved and have a good time, all united, each one of us wearing a neckerchief as we camped in the West Virginian Mountains, becoming the 3rd largest town in the state for just over a week. As Jayathma Wickramanayake (UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth) said: there are “hundreds of reasons that divide us but millions that unite us” and this was a spirit shared by everyone. We also heard from Ban Ki-Moon saying how "global citizens … must build bridges between people"; once again demonstrating how our world leaders call out for us to come together.
We hear constantly of the need for unity, the need for people to come together on common ground, whether it be to tackle climate change or injustice in the world we can all make a difference if we work together, we can all influence meaningful change in a way that makes us proud to be “Global Citizens”, a part of a global community.
We live in a world that's becoming slowly polarised, against people we may have never spoken too, which is why it’s important to remember, we probably all have at least one thing in common, it just takes a conversation to find out what that unifying item is.