The Character of Community: Healing Together as One
COVID-19 affected our lives in ways previously unimaginable. Throughout the turbulence of the past year, communities around the world have come together to assist those in need, highlight and fight injustice, and stand with frontline workers. Despite the mandated physical distance between us, our communities and social circles have often drawn closer in the face of profound tragedy.
Although our communities have rallied in some respects, we remain deeply divided in other ways. Racism, sectarianism, and elitism were rampant before the pandemic, and continue to be present. Arrogance, power-seeking, and a lack of compassion drive some of us away from communities where we once felt welcome. Crisis will often make existing divisions worse while reinforcing the importance of strong communities at the same time. The station of community bonds was emphasized by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who is reported to have said: “Verily, the believers are like a structure, each part strengthening the other…(Bukhari, Muslim)”
The current situation where we find ourselves can take us down two paths, according to incoming Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy: one leads to further isolation, loneliness, and their negative mental and physical effects, and the other is to “...use this moment to recenter our lives on people. And if we do that, then I believe we can come out of this pandemic more connected, more fulfilled and more resilient than before the pandemic began.”
What are some characteristics of strong and resilient communities? Do you feel included in your community? How do discrimination, racism, and bias affect communal bonds? How has the COVID-19 pandemic brought out the best in your community? Can we utilize our periods of solitude to better understand our social needs and responsibilities?
We encourage you to creatively explore these concepts and more in online Regional and National competitions and workshops during MIST 2021. Remember that unique projects displaying creativity and insight will be judged most favorably.