The Vital Importance of Community

A group of teenagers posing on the beach during sunset.

I’ve been reading in many different sources about the research involving community and well being. In his best-selling book,”Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell opens with a study done in a small Pennsylvania town called Roseto.

In 1882, Italians who lived in a town of the same name, Roseto, started to come to the U.S. These people worked in the nearby marble quarries or farmed the terraced land. Upon coming to the U.S., they found jobs in a slate quarry in Pennsylvania. Eventually, about 2000 Rosetans came to the U.S. They started to buy land on a rocky hillside and built closely clustered two-story stone houses. Eventually, they cleared the land and planted fruit trees and vegetables. They raised pigs and grew grapes for wine. Schools, shops and factories sprang up and the town thrived.

While visiting a farm in Pennsylvania, not far from Roseto, a physician named Stewart Wolf discovered that a local doctor rarely found anyone from Roseto under the age of sixty-five with heart disease. In fact, Rosetans were dying of old age, rather than of degenerative diseases.

Curious, he decided to investigate. He looked at their diet and quickly discovered that their nutrition was not particularly stellar. Nor did they exercise much. Many smoked heavily and struggled with obesity. It wasn’t genetics, as he tracked down people who had moved away and their rate of disease was the same as the general population.

“What Wolf began to realize was that the secret of Roseto wasn’t diet or exercise or genes or location. It had to be Roseto itself.”

As Wolf and a colleague walked around town, they finally understood. They discovered that it was the egalitarian community itself. They cared about each other and had each other’s backs. Families stayed together, often three generations in one house. They feltsafe and they felt loved.

I’ve been talking with others about the importance of community. Many people express a longing for connection and community, and an end to the loneliness they feel. I’ve spoken to others who have tried to create intentional communities, which were a disastrous failure. Why?

Over and over, the people who tried to create communities complain about the rules, the control conflicts, and the lack of personal responsibility. I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason Rosetans flourished is because of “…the egalitarian ethos of the community, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures.”

In other words, instead of trying to control each other, they helped each other. As a result of this, “There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime.” This is what happens when people feel safe in their community.

I don’t know about you, but I would love to live this way. I would love to live in a safe community where people cared about themselves and each other.

We can do a lot to create inner safety and security. We can feed ourselves well, get enough exercise, learn to take responsibility for our own feelings and develop our spiritual connection. In doing all this, we prepare ourselves to interact with others in caring and compassionate ways. But this is not enough.

We are social beings. We are not meant to live alone. Nor are we meant to live in hierarchical, controlling communities, rather than egalitarian, caring communities.

People who felt controlled by their communities left for freedom, but the cost was often loneliness and resulting illness. It seems to me that the key to a long and happy life is to learn to take responsibility for ourselves, and then form communities of other responsible and caring individuals who have no need to control others.

I am setting my sights on creating this kind of community.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process – featured on Oprah. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course, and visit our website at www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at http://www.innerbonding.com. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at http://selfquest.com. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

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