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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Okay, rain break over

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C1325529963/E20100908075704

The piece I should have done Tuesday

Before I put my new theory of community aside for a bit, there are some other ideas I want to attach.

Remember that not everything we call a community is actually a community. For example A group built around a charismatic person could easily demand that members are an extension of the focus, not individuals themselves. Personally, I want allies not servants. But not everyone sees it that way.

I'd love to have a hard and fast rule about what makes a good community or a bad community. But like most definitions of good and evil, it basically reduces to "That depends."

It seems to me that the most practical definition of a good group/community/culture/society is the one that brings the most satisfaction to the most of it's members. Notice I didn't say anything there about happiness. Revisiting the charismatic example, does that bring satisfaction to it's members? If it doesn't, then it's probably a "bad" group, but the members haven't recognized it as such.

If they don't recognize it as "bad" and do not know the alternatives, is it really "bad?" My oh my, it gets deep here fast, doesn't it?

I recognize that there aren't going to be universal definitions or rules governing groups, communities, cultures, and societies. None the less there are some ideas that seem to scale very well. They may not be universal, but I think they work as general cases.

One of my working theories states that cultures and civilizations expand when they have trade, immigration, and tolerance. Without trade, immigration, and tolerance, cultures contract and become more insular.

It's a generally accepted flexibility of thought that makes trade, immigration, and tolerance possible. The more trade, immigration, and tolerance there is, the more vibrant and interesting the culture becomes. You never know what will cross pollinate or what will take root where.

If this idea scales along the group/community/culture/society line, then I need a more practical definition of tolerance than the current American one. The whole "I'm ok, you're ok, and let's excuse that guy's behavior because he is only human" thing just doesn't work. So let's use a more historically accurate definition of tolerance.

Let's define tolerance as "We won't attack you on sight. And if you're nice enough, your child can marry one of our children. Anything more and you have to prove that it's worth it." So it's not blindly accepting and adopting the other guy's behavior and beliefs. It's more "We'll mostly ignore you and you can do your own thing as long as you don't mess with our own thing."

By current American norms, that's pretty harsh. History shows that is a fairly open meaning of tolerance though.

We can now say that one factor in a communities growth is the trade, immigration to and from other communities, and tolerance of those other communities.

The next measure I'd throw into the group is how much the various community members share with other members, and by extension with allied communities. I can't help but draw on my evangelical background here. If church members only went to church to worship, it was pretty obvious that the church was dying. But if they had something to bring them together besides worship, then they survived. Companies are the same way, that's the reasoning behind the softball teams and other team activities. Not to mention spur of the moment competitions like basketball or cubicle wars. It's a version of the Pillow Talk Problem, and indeed the Greek ideals of love are a good place to start.

I think that's enough from me for now. I'd love to know what you think.

Posted: Wed - September 8, 2010 at 07:57 AM

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A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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