Discovering the gifts of our neighbors sounds easy. But because many of us live in isolation from those on our block, we become reluctant to intrude into other people’s lives. We don’t want to be viewed as eccentric, which might lead to further isolation.
In some neighborhoods, we might feel unsafe knocking on the door of someone we do not know. Whatever the situation, fear of rejection is a powerful deterrent to connection. Especially for those of us who feel more introverted.
We might think of our reluctance to approach a neighbor as similar to our fear of public speaking. For those who have chosen to overcome this fear, the shift starts when we begin to believe that people out there are waiting for us to speak. It happens when we redefine the anxiety of speaking as excitement and realize that moving toward the anxiety is enlivening, in fact a wake-up call we have been waiting for. The courage it takes to rebuild the fabric of our community is the price we pay for creating a world we want to inhabit. In the end, the way to get past our discomfort is to do it again and again and again.
These daily Common Good Readings contain a certain amount of challenge. It can seem that this work is reserved for a certain type of personality. But the work of building the fabric of the community belongs to introvert and extrovert alike, to emotionally and physical types, feminine and masculine. Think of your own type and the costs it takes to change your habits of isolation or self-preservation into habits of community and interdependence.
McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (pp. 139-140). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.