It’s an innate trait of humans to need other people — to rely on other people for survival. This naturistic concept goes way back to tribal times where, without your community you would not survive. So why, all of a sudden, have we decided that we no longer need that? Why have we chosen to isolate ourselves within our own small ‘tribes’, and turn our backs on others that may help us from the greater community?
The idea of tribalism suggests that there is an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. This notion has adapted and moulded to fit the modern-day, but the foundations of it have always remained the same. Viewing outsiders as a threat — viewing people who are ‘different’ as a potential risk to your way of life — has always been at the forefront of society. But history has taught us that this approach to life will only result in failures and hurt. In order for humanity to evolve into our best selves, we need community cohesion. We need to bring everyone together — to learn from each other — and to appreciate that our differences are what makes us so great.
It was not too long ago that an ‘inclusive’ community just meant having one member of a minority group within it. It was almost considered a tick-box role. But a series of events led to the idea of community cohesion being at the very front of sustainable communities. The 2001 housing riots highlighted the issues with housing segregation across areas of London, showing us that, by limiting the chance for community cohesion to occur, you are escalating the ‘us vs them’ mindset. Later, following the 7/7 bombings, when many lost their lives, the thought of community cohesion was tempered once more. The government established the Commission on Integration and Cohesion to review and establish a new way to approach community cohesion, publishing the ‘Our Shared Future’ report to highlight what more can be done.
Nevertheless, despite all that, community cohesion allows people to learn from each other; to mutually benefit from experiences, knowledge, and understandings; to build peaceful, and sustainable, communities. London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. There are endless opportunities to appreciate the community cohesion. Every step a person takes to learn or educate about diversity is one step closer to cohesion. Bringing together such a diverse nation allows us to appreciate one another’s stories and learn from our mistakes. By doing so, we can discourage narrow-mindedness and promote community.
Without having the influence of other cultures, religions, and ethnicities, we begin to believe that ours is the only one that matters. This approach to life is the opposite of community. It’s isolating, self-deprecating, and ultimately harmful. It can allow us to develop discriminatory views of others without even knowing them. It can deny us opportunities that would help us grow. It can foster a hateful world, and history has taught us that a hateful world is an undeveloped, non-progressive version of society that limits everyone.
Community cohesion opens our minds to bigger things. It enables us to grow and develop, both personally and within society. It can allow us to feel safer. It can allow us to feel smarter. It can allow us to be more beautiful. Accepting that community cohesion is the way forward and welcoming it into our societies with open arms (and minds) will only generate good. There will no longer be an ‘us vs them’, there will only be an us. At JAN Trust, we are working with communities to promote a cohesive approach at a grassroots level. Helping individuals to understand the benefits of working together has enabled us to create significant changes and bring together people from all over. If you want to learn more, visit www.jantrust.org. It is important to remember that it is innate for us to find our people, our tribe, but our people can be any people, anywhere, anytime, and that community cohesion will save us.