As I sat in my human resource class last semester we began talking about generations. Each generation has general characteristics that the people in that generation follow. The baby boomers (ages 55-70ish) were very optimistic competitive and hardworking. Shaped by 2 World Wars their focus was, live to work. This was the first generation of duel house income, with both parents working. Gen X, The children of many boomers, they are very independent, resourceful, but also very skeptical. Their independence is rooted from both parents working. It was expected for many to get home from school to an empty house and hangout by themselves for a few hours until their parents got home from work. This instilled a deep root of independence.
Why Do I bring this up?
As the Church and culture itself talks about community I find it fascinating to see the correlation between generations. We will talk about my generation in a bit. For the Gen X, which my parents fall in, I’ve seen it. Deep independence. They don’t look to do life with other. They may get dinner with friends occasionally and meet up for holidays, but the struggles of life are dealt with primarily by themselves, or at least only with their spouse. Now is this bad? Yes and no. I do think independence is partially a good thing but too much of it becomes a very bad thing. We were not designed to live life in complete isolation. Life is meant to be shared. While, Gen X saw the pendulum swing to the side of independence, my generation is seeing it swing to other.
My generation, Gen Y (or Millennials) are far more dependent. We are driven by teamwork and a constant need to communicate with other can be seen in our social media addiction. As our parents were independent to an extreme, we swing to being completely dependent. Now as that fits into community, it seems like it would be great. We all get to hangout and share life together. But with this we have lost all sense of autonomy. Nothing can be done on our own, so biblically community, were we push and pull each other to becoming more like Christ is sacrificed for recreating TV style hangouts at the central perk where we just laugh over coffee.
Real community deals with both Independence and Dependence. Our independence should be found in our own pursuit of our Savior. If we are not first after Him, we WILL seek that satisfaction in our friends. But that individual pursuit should be an outflow in to the people we do life with.
I believe this is found in a term called interdependence. In an interdependent relationship, participants may be emotionally, economically, or morally reliant on and responsible to each other but not completely dependent. An interdependent relationship can arise between two or more cooperative autonomous people. Some people advocate freedom or independence as the ultimate good; others do the same with devotion to one's family, community, or society. Interdependence can be a common ground between these aspirations.
As we look to Christ, I think this is a good start to building authentic life together. You don’t have to do everything on your own. I heard it put once “A shared joy is twice the joy, and a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” So lets do this together.