Community can be yours, but only if you really want it. Like any other relationship, it requires effort. Community requires actual respect for other individuals. Love gets you bonus points. It requires acting in good faith – that means in an honest way. Technical respect for the mores of the community is a starting point. Effortless adherence to the spirit of those mores will make you a star.
Communities are friends – with benefits. When you’re in a jam, who’s going to bail you out? Stand up for you? Empathize with you? Feed your cats? Community is programmed into us. We are stronger with it. We are vulnerable without it. Can we live satisfying lives without it? Nope.
What is a community? Is it a formal organization with official leaders and a written code of rules? It can be. But that’s no fun. A community is any group of people connected via a shared experience. People in North America is a community. The US senate is a community. Everybody who is into lollipops is a community.
I belong to the liberty community. These are some of the most principled people on the planet, so much so that their disagreements become quite vociferous and passionate. Why? Precisely because we care deeply about principle. In fact, many of us have dedicated our very lives – risking poverty, homelessness and bodily harm – to defending the right and exposing the wrong.
A community’s mores can be written, unwritten, disagreed upon or even constantly fought over. That last one is characteristic of the strongest communities. It suggests a decentralized, dynamic structure and the absence of a hierarchical decision-making process. When everyone is on equal standing and feeling empowered, they can speak up – or even dissent.
Some dismiss this dissent by calling it “drama”. Urban Dictionary defines drama as “making a big deal over something unnecessarily.” But the complaints I see (and admittedly sometimes make) are not unnecessary. Some wrongs should have a big deal made about them – especially ones that take place in our own communities.
Dissent, complaining, engaging in discussion and pointing out wrongs are admirable activities. I fully support them. It’s the core of what libertarians and activists do. We dissent from the state. We complain about politicians. We point out the wrongs of cops. We engage in discussion and debate with those outside our community. But, when brave individuals point out wrongdoing in our own midst suddenly the Squash-it Squad comes out in force. It’s all drama they say. Drama and infighting and it’s killing the movement! Squash it! Fast!
No, dissent does not harm our community. The Squash-it Squad harms our community. They sweep disagreements under the rug where they fester into full blown infections. Complaining is an offense against nature for the Squash-it Squad. They speak no complaints, hear no complaints and see no complaints. It’s all immature, the dissenters are drama queens and that’s it. No explanations offered.
To dissent means to hold or express opinions that are at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially expressed. In other words, dissenters are truth-tellers. They shake things up. They’re not afraid to challenge commonly accepted wisdom. Libertarians are, by nature, dissenters. We don’t tolerate orthodoxy in society at large. Why should we then tolerate it in our own community?
I won’t. I’ve dissented from other libertarians here, here and here (for starters). You shouldn’t either. Now, when you hear someone complain about “drama” and “infighting”, you’ll know. They’re actually talking about dissent, complaining and discussion – the lifeblood of a healthy community.
Watch my blog in the coming days as I name and shame members of the Squash-it Squad. Please feel free to dissent from me in the comments below (as long as it’s not ad hominem).