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I’ve been thinking lately about our community’s raison d’etre.

First, I wonder if it’s even fair to establish such an ideal. Can we require or even request participants to put themselves aside for a greater ideal, especially if we are unable to decide exactly what that ideal is? It is right for us to impose a sense of purpose upon others?

Yet, this sense of mission would not be coercively created. The values that we uphold are not forced upon us. They are created and shared by all members. No subgroup or individual authoritatively proclaimed a set of values nor demanded submission to them. We all participate voluntarily, because we share these values. Additionally, I think we all came into this community with the understanding that participation would require some degree of self-sacrifice and personal abandonment. Our purpose is a natural outgrowth of our shared values, which takes all voices into account. Therefore it is not one that is forcefully and oppressively employed.

I’m confused about the disconnect. Perhaps it’s my own inability to recognize a unifying purpose. We have a shared set of core values, but I am unable to see any shared sense of mission or purpose. Values without action are empty. If our community is purposeless, then I see nothing to differentiate us from any other collection of roommates.

Here’s what I’m trying to get at: Any set of roommates can have a shared set of values. It’s a sense of purpose or mission which differentiates an intentional community. And it’s that which I am having trouble seeing right now.

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